Perry, the voice behind New York Street Food, brings you his latest review on New York City food trucks.
With yesterday’s announcement of the 2012 Vendy Award Finalists, we started thinking about past Vendy Award winners. One past Vendy Award winner we haven’t reviewed for you yet is Sammy’s Halal Food, who won the 2nd Vendy Cup back in 2006.
Sammy is Samiul Noor, and his original cart is on 73rd St & Broadway in Jackson Heights, Queens. After winning the 2nd Vendy Cup in 2006, Sammy added a 2nd cart in the East Village (Broadway & East 4th St) and the one I went to in the West Village, on 6th Ave & West 4th St. You can tell Sammy’s by the large Vendy Award photo and articles on the side of the cart (pictured above).
Sammy’s chicken over rice for $5 is his go-to dish, but what elevates his food are the sauces: a very spicy hot sauce, and a delicious green sauce that you don’t see on too many other halal carts.
The sauces only mean so much if the chicken isn’t fresh and good. When I walked up to the cart, there was a batch of boneless chicken (thighs?), onions and bell peppers just being cooked. There’s no substitute for fresh, especially on the street.
Sammy’s chicken is similar in style to other halal carts, but his chicken is fresh, moist, tender, and had no funky stuff in it like joints or cartilage.
As for the sauces, the white, mayo-based sauce is similar to other halal carts, but the red hot sauce has a nice kick to it. My lips and tongue were tingling for some time after eating.
The green sauce is the one that separates Sammy’s from the rest of the halal carts. It was not spicy, but was a mix of parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic and probably other herbs and spices too. The green sauce was quite herby, and picked up the lunch considerably. Without the green sauce, this is just another chicken over rice dish. While you may or may not want hot sauce depending upon your taste, the green sauce is mandatory.
The rice at Sammy’s was a cut above too. There were a bunch of visible spices, such as whole cloves and caraway seeds. The server (not Sammy) also asked if I wanted some chickpeas, which you can see in the top photo. The chickpeas were a bit salty, but were a decent side dish.
If you live or work near the Village (or Jackson Heights), Sammy’s is an excellent option. I don’t believe they tweet, and their website is very basic, but Sammy’s carts have been parking in the same spots for years, and are a good, inexpensive option if you’re in the area.