Every neighborhood, from Fort Greene to Harlem, from Bay Ridge to Sunnyside, has its own culinary style.
In a city obsessed with food (in a good way) Packers in New York get to sample it all.
Each week we are featuring a neighborhood institution that over time and experience or professional packers will become a no-brainer. The places that when you look at the day’s scheduled moving jobs, you know what you’re having for lunch before you hop in the truck.
This week’s pick! — Halal Paradise, Boerum Hill
There are hundreds of halal trucks across New York City and most of them dish up chicken and lamb dishes that will certainly fill you up but won’t necessarily make much of a culinary impression.
Halal Paradise in Boerum Hill is a different story.
First off, Halal Paradise’s bright green truck stands out from its competitors. Secondly, the long line of customers waiting patiently before the truck at nearly all hours of the day signals that something paradisiacal is happening at Halal Paradise.
After wrapping up a moving job in downtown Manhattan on a recent afternoon, two members of the Cool Hand team stopped by the famed truck for a bite. The owner, Ahmed, greeted them with a smile.
“How are you doing today?” he asked, whiffs of grilled meat and rich spices emanating from the grill in front of him.
Ahmed started selling halal fare at the corner of Pacific Street and Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn 22 years ago. When asked about what has kept him in business all these years, Ahmed waxed religious.
“God!” he exclaimed, pointing to the sky with a wide-tooth grin. “And, of course, high quality ingredients and more experience.”
The Halal Paradise menu reads like those posted on the front of most halal trucks around the city: chicken over rice, lamb over rice, kofta over rice, gyros, falafel sandwiches – no price tag exceeding $7. But when you dig into, say, a chicken over rice with hot sauce and white sauce, you immediately realize that this truck touts something that the others don’t.
Ahmed explained that his trick is to season all dishes with spices imported directly from India and Egypt. He also takes the extraordinary steps of spiffing up the yellow rice with cinnamon and serving all orders with a healthy side salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onions, chickpeas, pickles and olives.
The two Cool Hand members who ate here recently got a lamb over rice plate and a combination chicken and lamb over rice plate. After they had picked up their order and were walking over to the truck to chow down, Ahmed called out behind them, “Have a great day. Salam Alaykum!”