The excitement over The Halal Guys has been building up since late 2014 – when some food blogs started to announce the impending arrival of the famous New York City food cart in Manila. I’ve been to New York a few times but I had always wondered why my sister (who is based there and is a lover of all kinds of ethnic food) has never taken me to try it. Now I know why…it’s nothing special.
Now, I don’t want to insult all The Halal Guys lovers out there! So please hear me out first. My experience was actually not bad. I had a decent meal of their famous gyro/chicken combo over rice. The “small” serving was already quite generous and could easily feed 2 people. It had a good helping of shredded lettuce and tomatoes – making the platter look really colourful while being healthy at the same time. I also made sure to order extra of their special white sauce, which I always need in any Middle Eastern restaurant anyway. However, in most Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants in the city, they don’t charge for the extra. They basically give a whole bottle at your disposal.
So, the gyro/chicken combo over rice satisfied my hunger. But it failed to live up to my expectations. I mean, you do tend to expect a lot if the place gets unbelievably long queues. I enjoy Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food and Manila has so much to offer in this category. For these cravings, I like to visit favourites like Behrouz and Arya, plus a lot of the cheaper stalls you find all over Quezon City, Ortigas, and Makati. If you are familiar with these places, then you would understand that The Halal Guys does not match the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean flavours that Manila diners are already used to. It comes off as a bit bland, in fact.
I visited the stall on its second week so the lines were not as bad – just under 30 minutes for me – so I had no hard feelings…well…maybe except for the order-taker who could not respond to any food question except to say “It’s from New York!”
The Halal Guys is located at the Mega Food Hall, SM Mega Fashion Hall.