EAT AMERICA – Halal Edition
In this multi-part series, Eat America will be exploring North American cities emerging as dining destinations for lovers of halal cuisine. Read as we profile a sampling of chefs who are bringing boldness and brilliance to the market while employing social media to showcase themselves and their restaurants. This report was made possible with research conducted on behalf of McCormick For Chefs.
Food that is halal means that it’s prepared according to Muslim dietary law. Halal dictates what is and what’s not allowed like pork and alcohol and not only that but it includes rules about how animals are treated, killed and handled. Halal method of slaughter, it is very similar to kosher, but the only difference is that you don’t need a spiritual leader to do the slaughter.
From tracking about 200 places that served halal food in 1998 Shaheed Amanullah is now tracking 7,600 places using a website called Zabhiha launched to help Muslims to find halal options. In fact, halal is making inroads even among people who are wary of Muslims. “Food is a great medium for cultural sharing,” Amanullah said.
Adnan Durrani, chief executive officer of American Halal Co and Amanullah both recall being served kosher food when they were growing up: halal was hard to find, and for their families it was the next-best thing. Now, it’s easily available at dine-outs, as well as eaters-in. Some of the credit goes to the Halal Guys, which started as a street cart serving meat dishes in New York City.
Let’s look at the fusion of flavors at the different cuisines across the halal industry of America.
Muhammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka, and Abdelbaset Elsayed at The Halal Guys
Starting of with the globally famous The Halal Guys, Muhammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka, and Abdelbaset Elsayed, took the simple concept of a street cart serving meat dishes mainstream, relying solely on the power of word of mouth in New York City making them the talk of the town. The Halal Guys are a perfect example of American Halal food amongst both New Yorkers and Tourists and once you have a taste of it, its very hard to forget the signature hot platter of chicken or gyro over rice and covered in White Sauce.
Their success story has only just begun. They have taken their American Halal Food concept worldwide. With a following as loyal as theirs and the tempting dishes they prepare, they connect with their fan following through their social media accounts. This allows them to keep their followers updated about their new locations as well as their menu. With anticipation levels exceptionally high, we can’t wait for their grand opening in Toronto.
Juan Riesco’ at Nini’s Deli
Juan Riesco the one-man show has transformed his parents’ one-stop shop for food and groceries into a restaurant primarily for sandwiches. Nini’s Deli is a full-time restaurant featuring a fascinating blend of Cuban and Lebanese flavors, with some additional traditional favorites (such as Cuban steaks and falafels). Also featuring exclusive dishes including the Media Noche, a sandwich stacked with fried plantains, turkey, mustard, and pickles. Yum!
Their bright sun-streaked interior and eye-catching presentation of their food, which includes their sandwiches wrapped in checkered paper and their multi-colored lemonade jars make it a non-typical neighborhood deli.
Cedric and Alex at Go! Sy Thai
Go! Sy Thai was started up by the owners Cedric and Alex Lee as a recreation of Bangkok within Detroit by being surrounded by colorful and brightly lit interior and overhead lanterns and highlights the restaurant’s fast-casual dining concept with something for everyone.
Their offering includes halal, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options in large portions, good prices, and lots of spice. Keeping their brand alive by the means of; interaction with followers, giveaways, mixers and competitions.
Jason, Hasnain and Vijay at Tava Kitchen
Three friends, one mission and ethnically diverse flavors of the South across their locations in San-Francisco and California. Jason, Hasnain and Vijay, set out on a mission to help America fall in love with the flavors of the South. As co-founder Hasnain very aptly puts it “We created boundaries on a map. I don’t want to create them on a plate” They want to avoid discrimination when it comes to the mains and sides, integrating all the Southern flavours.
Tava Kitchen captures the essence and flavors of the South across their locations in San-Francisco and California and their ethnically diverse visual identity and strong presence really resonates with you.
Rida Salman is an Online Content and Digital Marketing Specialist. Having done a Masters in Digital Futures from OCAD University she has both education and industry experience in Digital Marketing. She is currently the Account Coordinator at Branding and Buzzing.