TODAY’S LUNCH: FRIED FISH & SHRIMP PLATTER FROM 100% HALAL & HEALTHY CART
I didn’t know there were two 100% Halal & Healthy carts until last week when I spoke to Gamal, the owner. The first one I went to in April on the NW corner of 55th & Park was recommended by Eric B, a NYSF reader, and it was excellent. Very hot sauce, chicken and roasted veggies made for a great lunch. I didn’t realize at the time this was actually Gamal’s 2nd cart. For Today’s Lunch, I went to Gamal’s first cart, which was quite different from his second cart, as detailed below.
The cart I went to today was one block south, on the SW corner of 54th & Park, and as I said, it was actually Gamal’s first cart. (The menu above says Gamal Menu #1, Established 1989). There were some similarities between the carts, such as Gamal’s method of separating each element of the meal by putting them into separate metal containers just above the grill. This kept everything fresh and the flavors distinct from each other.
The differences between the carts was mainly in the menus. This cart had a deep fryer, so french fries, fish, shrimp and chicken could all be fried and served. The other cart concentrated more on grilled meats and veggies. Both carts are called 100% Halal & Healthy, but this food was not as healthy as food from the other cart one block north. However, if you’re like me, there’s nothing I enjoy more than fried fish and shrimp. Today’s Lunch was the fried fish and shrimp combo over rice for $6.
The menu said 6 types of rice were available, but I only saw 4: basmati, yellow, yellow with beans, and yellow with vegetables. That’s still at least 2 more rice options than most other carts. I opted for the last one – yellow rice with peas and carrots. I also asked for tartar sauce and hot sauce.
There were 3 large fried shrimp and 2 fish fillets served over rice- one quite large and one smaller fillet. Gamal even threw in a falafel ball for the hell of it.
I’ve always loved fried shrimp, and these were tasty – nicely fried and not overly done. The large fish fillet was fairly thick and it flaked easily, even with a plastic fork. The smaller fillet was a little more done, but still good. Not as good as the larger fillet, which was thick and flaky.
I generally like more pickle relish in my tartar sauce, but the fried fish with tartar sauce was an enjoyable lunch – one that I would have more often, but not too many street vendors serve it. Gamal does at this cart, and I was a happy camper.
The hot sauce wasn’t hot, but after I started eating, I realized Gamal’s other cart had a “very hot” sauce that I really liked. Next time, I’ll ask if they have the very hot sauce at this cart too.
Today’s Lunch was an 8.5 out of 10. The rice was a little too soft, and the hot sauce was not hot, but the fish and shrimp were a treat. Now I know Gamal’s food is available grilled on 55th & Park and fried on 54th & Park. Two very good options for lunch on Park Ave in the 50’s.