The famous Halal Guys that sit on the corner of 53rd and 6th in Manhattan make the stuff of true New York street food legend. As does the copycat food truck here in Boston that imitates them. Meet The Chicken & Rice Guys.
The bright yellow truck of Boston fame specializes in halal-style street fare directly inspired by the carts that dish up containers full of chicken and rice that food truck owners, Kevin Lao, Ian So, and Mark DeNote, would devour, late-night in New York.
“We used to always eat chicken and rice outside our friends house after a night out. Since then, each visit to New York City had to be accompanied by a meal of chicken and rice from the Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th,” says co-owner, Ian So. “We thought, ‘Why is there no chicken and rice in Boston?’ It was obvious that Boston was missing out on something incredible.”
That we were.
There are undoubtedly a lot of wildcard factors with trying to recreate the ambrosia from that cart. But after first, and second, and third taste, you realize comparisons are not an issue for The Chicken & Rice Guys.
Marinated in the truck’s select spices, chicken breasts are grilled, chopped into chunks and served over a pile of turmeric-yellow rice. Of course, it wouldn’t be halal-cart style without the ubiquitous (and none too fancy) layer of iceberg lettuce, and that mysterious sweet-sour-tangy white sauce that just has to be ladled all over the chicken and rice for true street-style authenticity.
So here is the qualifier for The Chicken & Rice Guys: Their chicken recipe is not exactly what you get from that cart. In fact, it’s better. It makes the chicken from the cart seem under-flavored and dry. Yes, that is a bold statement, and in no way am I saying that I wouldn’t enjoy a to-go container of chicken and rice from the Halal Guys, but the Boston truck’s recipe allows for the chicken to be juicier, have more depth of flavor, and pair flawlessly with their fresh and delicious assortment of sauces (go big on the white sauce, lite on the extra spicy sauce).
The truck even has begun to attract some New York–size throngs of people (you may be stuck in a line 30 people deep waiting to get your $6 bite of heaven). The menu is simple, and the humble offerings are familiar to prior halal cart customers. If you’re smart, you’ll go for the combo plate of chicken and lamb served over the rice and then douse the aluminum take-out pan of goodness with the their perfected sauces.
The Chicken & Rice Guys now have three trucks and can be found anywhere from Cambridge to the Seaport. Check out their website for specific daily locations.