Aside from having an extreme love for eating, Filipinos also have an incredible talent for sniffing out food-related information. Popular international restaurant coming to the country? Yup, we already know where it will be and when it will open! So when The Halal Guys opened up their very first international franchise in Manila, they didn’t need to make much of an announcement.
On their grand launch day on October 13 last year, more than a thousand people showed up in front of their stall. The line was so long it spilled beyond the Mega Food Hall, onto the mall’s walkway, and past the stores next door. It was an unexpected milestone not just for their first Filipino branch but for the entire The Halal Guys brand!
Manila finally gets a taste of the NYC-famous The Halal Guys
There’s no need to be jealous of our jet-setting friends and their glamorous travels to the Big Apple anymore. Because now that The Halal Guys is here in the country, all it takes is an Uber ride (and some patience in traffic) to get a feel for what it’s like to eat a meal at their original, ultra-famous food cart in NYC — minus having to line up in extremely cold weather!
Everything is replicated to the tee, from the bright yellow color of the stall, to the quality of the ingredients, to the taste profile of their products. While the chicken, vegetables, and rice may be locally sourced, their gyro, sandwiches, sauces, and all other dish components are imported all the way from New York. And of course, their facilities and ingredients here in Manila are verified as a hundred percent halal.
But if you really want to feel like a true New Yorker, you have to eat the platters the New Yorker way! Don’t worry, you’re not the only noob who’s been eating it wrong this whole time…
How to eat their platters the New Yorker way
Once you get your platter, the obvious Filipino thing to do is to eat it “ulam and kanin style.” You cut up a piece of the chicken or gyro, load it onto your spoon along with some rice, and then take a bite. But lo and behold, this age-old method of eating is all wrong …at least when you’re at The Halal Guys!
So this is how it goes down in NYC: Customers get their platters from the cart and with no tables or chairs to eat on, they remain standing. They then use one hand to hold the platter from underneath and then with the other, they MIX EVERYTHING UP. This way, every grain of rice and morsel of meat is covered in the special white sauce, and you get all of the flavors in one mouthful. It’s a simple additional step, but it makes all the difference!
If you end up really liking the white sauce that comes with your platter and want your food completely drenched in this good stuff, you can buy extra ones that come in pouches at ₱25 each. The same goes for their red sauce! But heed our warning and use this one sparingly. Unless you’re a hardcore chili head who loves the sensation of grenades going off in your mouth! You can also choose to add in barbecue sauce to the mix–it’s free AND unlimited!
Try out their bestselling platters and sandwiches
Now that you know how to get the maximum enjoyment out of your platters, here are the bestsellers you need to be getting your hands on:
The Gyro and Chicken Combo over Rice is everyone’s favorite both in New York and Manila, the tender bits of chicken a great partner to the crunchy slices of beef. All that meat is balanced out by the pita bread as well as the generous helpings of rice, tomatoes, and lettuce.
For the vegetarians out there or those who are a bit more health conscious, the Falafel over Rice is the way to go. These hefty deep-fried balls made out chickpeas are crunchy on the outside and starchy on the inside. They go perfectly with a heaping dose of the white sauce and a droplet or two of the red!
If you’re ordering these platters in the New York size, you better be starving. We’re talking about portions that can fill up two to three hungry mouths here! Although word is, there are ladies out there who have successfully polished off an entire New York platter by themselves without trouble! If you think your stomach can’t stretch out that far, their platters come in medium and small sizes, too!
For something that’s more on the go, order up a sandwich! These are essentially the same thing as the platters, just minus the rice and bundled up inside a warm, cozy pita wrap for easy eating. The top picks are the Gyro Sandwich and the Chicken Sandwich (not in photo). Don’t worry, there’s no special way of eating these. Just open them up and dig in!
The first halal-certified restaurant in the Philippines!
If you’re not sure what halal actually means, here’s a little breakdown. To be a halal-certified restaurant in the country, the globally-recognized Halal Development Institute of the Philippines (HDIP) checks your facilities, the source of your food, and the preparation process.
It’s not just a simple elimination of pork from your ingredients. The cow or chicken should be fed with halal-certified feeds and slaughtered by a Muslim brother. In the process, the animal should not be put under stress and its blood should be drained.
The Halal Guys is the first-ever restaurant in the country to have successfully complied with all these requirements. Every platter and sandwich is served up to standard, making them the best place to go to for legitimate halal food!
The Halal Guys can be found at the 5/F of the Mega Fashion Hall in SM Megamall, Mandaluyong and at B6 Bonifacio High Street, 11th Ave., cor. 28th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.