It’s been awhile since the last installment of the cart tour, partly because of rumors that any chicken and rice in our immediate locality would be rendered irrelevant by the arrival of Sammy’s Halal, the 2006 Vendy award winner that was reported to be moving in to 111th? street, and then mysteriously disappeared. Now, the Hungry Lion is reporting that Sammy doesn’t plan to come back, but the blog is assembling a letter to change his mind.
It’s a good effort, but it’s hard to argue with business, so we might as well take a look at what we do have for now. Before the 110th street cart came in, the 120th street cart was the reigning chicken-and-rice champion, and it’s a place you want to like. The prices are low ($4.00 a platter), the people are friendly, and, topped with three turbine vents, it looks a little like a palace.
On the surface, the place looks like it would easily beat its competitors to the south. There’s a wide selections of both ingredients and sauces, and whole chickens are always cooking on the grill. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite add up.
The biggest strike against this place is the small portions, which perversely might be seen as an advantage in these days of diet-awareness. Incorrect! More is more. It is quite easy to get less from more, and turn the remainder into something useful, while it is nearly impossible to turn less into more. Try this out: buy a single 12 oz. beer, and drink 72 ounces of it. Did you succeed? If you believe so, you have probably had more than 72 ounces of beer before you even started this exercise.
But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so just observe the white space in this food carton:
There, you’ve just read 1,111 words on the portions being small, unlike this article. But what about the food?
The food is, by relative food-cart standards, “good” but not “delicious,” while like the quadruple Stacker at Burger King, the 110th street cart tends in the other direction. Up on 120th, the chicken tastes more like chicken and is less greasy and crispy, the rice tastes more like rice and is less mystery-flavored, and the white sauce tastes like yogurt with a kick of lemon, and is less of mystery blend somewhere between tzatziki and ranch dressing. The red sauce is weak and disappointing – no real redeeming factor here.
Taken as a whole, the dish is fine to eat but lacks a kick. The rice sticks together, too, which makes for bland clusters where the sauce doesn’t penetrate, and the “cheap white rice” flavor takes over (even though the rice is yellow.) That makes it sound worse than it is: with chicken that is fairly succulent, and tasty sauce, the meal is easy to eat. However, it offers nothing special, not even the retrograde pleasure of grease that can sometimes make up for a lack of quality.
If it’s chicken and rice you’re looking for, 110th is the spot to hit. If that doesn’t do it for you, you’d best get to signing that petition.