The most exciting event of the year has finally came to fruition. No, I’m not talking about Christmas, though I am excited about that too. It’s the long awaited opening of one of New York’s favourite street foods, Halal Guys on Saturday December 17th! Now being a blogger sometimes has its perks as I was lucky enough to be invited to give it a try during their soft opening phase. I first fell in love with the delicious foil bowls of chicken and rice goodness when I was in New York last year. In fact despite all the amazing goodies I devoured on the trip it was one of the most memorable meals. Not long after my return from NYC Jil’hal Bros opened up their own version of the NY street food here in Seoul and I have been a very frequent customer ever since. However I have still hankered after the original so am pleased as punch they are here too, especially since it’s in Itaewon!
The restaurant is located in Itaewon on the second floor just across from the police station. The eatery is reasonably spacious with seating for about 20 and is decked out in a festive red and yellow colour combination. The team of staff they have working there is huge and they have brought reps over from New York to make sure everything goes smoothly. Working like a well oiled machine they had our monumental order put together in minutes, which is very important when you have so many people to serve in such a short time.
If you are unfamiliar with Halal Guys then the main menu item that everyone lusts after are the chicken and rice, or beef and rice salad bowls. They have three sizes of platters available, a small for 7,900, a regular for 9,900, and a New York for 11,900 (which are the same size as the street cart ones you get in NYC). Along with the meat and rice you also get salad and pita bread, which is then topped with two sauces, a creamy white sauce from heaven and a spicy hot sauce. The platters are customisable so you can have as much or as little sauce as your heart desires and you can also add other ingredients like pickles and olives. It has been a long time since I tried to the original in NYC but I have to say they are pretty much dead on to what I remember and just as addictive. I have eaten at least 8 over the past few weeks and I have to say that, unlike revenge, this is a dish best served hot. I’m not saying I didn’t scarf down a few for breakfast or lunch, but the true flavours are enjoyed warm so try and eat in store if you can. Another point to mention is that they are still testing their pita bread and trying to find an exact copy of the NY one, but it’s a very small flaw in an otherwise delicious dish.
Also on the menu are some gyro wraps. I hadn’t tried these before so was eager to try them. They aren’t cheap at 8,900, but they are large and filling. I got one last night and couldn’t even finish it, although considering I had already eaten the large chicken and rice bowl it is not surprising. The pita as mentioned still needs a little work, as this batch was a bit on the spongy side. Personally I think I’d rather stick with a kebab across the street if I was in the mood for a sandwich, just because the ratio of filling to bread is a little better and they are slightly better value, though don’t let me put you off from trying one.
There are number of sides on the menu including falafel (2,500) and hummus (5,000), which I am sure will be of great interest to my veggie readers. I know that falafel and hummus are found reasonably easily here these day but having a fast food option that you can go to and enjoy with your carnivorous friends will surely be a blessing to many. They also have very reasonably priced fries for (3,000), which are just cheap enough that you will throw a batch on to your order for gluttony’s sake. To celebrate the grand opening tomorrow, the first 100 customers will get their orders free of charge, while the first 1000 will have a chance to play a game and win free food or promotional t-shirts and what not, so be sure to stop by.
Halal Guys is located at 2F, 187 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight you will see Halal Guys just up ahead past Holly’s Coffee on the second floor opposite the police station. For more information you can call them on 027948309 or check out their facebook page. They will be open from from 11am-11pm Sunday – Thursday, and 11am-3am Friday and Saturday.