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3 Reasons Why the Halal Guys Philippines Killed My Buzz

The Halal Guys Philippines menu 3

Location: 5th Floor, SM Mega Food Hall, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City; Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (Soon to Open)
Telephone Number: +632 858-7080
Official Website: www.thehalalguys.com
Facebook: The Halal Guys Philippines
Twitter: @thehalalguysph
Instagram: TheHalalGuysPH

3 Reasons Why the Halal Guys Philippines Killed My Buzz

When news about the Halal Guys opening in Manila broke out, everyone couldn’t wait for New York’s most popular street food concept to arrive in Manila. Nearly every well-known restaurant brand has opened here in Manila, and Fransmart’s strategy to open in the Philippines was working. The launch had even pushed back due to acquiring approvals from the Halal Development Institute of the Philippines, and the Halal Guys had been successful to be the first accredited restaurant/food cart to secure a Halal certification.

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There’s much success to that area, and the opening was well publicized, a fair execution by entrepreneurs who were the very first to dive into the food business. (Fransmart partnered with Fully Booked owners Jaime and Chris Daez to open The Halal Guys.) There are dangers to that, as many have seen particularly with Dean and DeLuca franchise here in the Philippines. It takes knowledge of the restaurant business, culinary aptitude, and advanced understanding of the Philippine market in order to thrive.

I won’t beat around the bush. Simply put, I was highly disappointed with my Halal Guys experience and here are the three reasons why:

1. The street food magic disappeared.

I had early reservations that this franchise will not be as good as its New York counterpart, for the very reason that the store is located inside a mall. The Halal Guys concept banks on busy, fast-paced New Yorkers who want to find the fastest, affordable way to eat lunch or grab a to-go on the way home. Putting it inside the mall ruins that magic.

The Halal Guys Philippines menu 3

Can you imagine the Halal Guys parked along the narrow streets of Makati like those Jolly Jeep carts everyone loves? The lines would have appeared crazy and could reach all the way to Ayala Avenue. For whatever hurdles that kind of execution could entail with the Makati city government, it must have been worth it. (As another example, why is Pepi Cubano suddenly thriving with its Cuban sandwiches? It is more than just pop culture ~ People want fast food right away.)

There have been reports that Halal Guys will be opening in Taguig soon to emulate the New York experience. But you know how the old saying goes, “First impressions last.”

2. Charging Php 15 per packet of hot sauce is sneaky.

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At 53rd and 6th, The Halal Guys freely offers everyone to drizzle their Gyro and Chicken over rice with the famous garlic sauce and hot sauce.

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Here in Manila, they charge you for P25 for the white sauce packet and P15 for the hot sauce. Admittedly I didn’t ask for it when I ate my small serving of Gyro and Felafel Combo (P269). Inkmasterwannabe shares that you can ask for it at the counter.

Hi i just wanted to share na while eating? Naisip ko ang dull ng lasa so i went to the counter kahit mahaba ung pila. I asked for hot sauce. They didn’t charge me at all. You can actually ask for it pala. U dont have to buy the extra packet. They gave me a cup of hot sauce. (Its the only thing na legit doon, haha literal na hot. The food? Its not really good) – Inkmasterwannabe

Since the famous hot sauce and white sauce are all imported, the management had to charge people for ordering extra ones. But you can really control the abuse without having to charge people for it by putting a limit. (And you won’t really give these to people if you think it’s going to cost you that much.) The thought is disorienting for those who know that people in New York just drizzle their platters or Chicken Wraps with the sauce before leaving.

3. The Jasmine Rice ruined the platter.

I am not the only one saying this, but it’s good if you can also hear what other people say about the Halal Guys Philippines’ own version of rice platters. Colored Jasmine rice was downright disappointing (it doesn’t come close to the taste of Basmatic rice!), and at first I had high hopes they were going to pull this off. There’s a lot of Basmati rice available and more than the quality of gyro, the rice occupies majority of every bite you eat. It is true that Basmati rice is slightly more expensive than Jasmine, but with this kind of trade off, people will definitely feel cheated. The rice platters here in Manila are more expensive than the ones in New York, and the cheapest one you can order is the small Felafel sandwich at P175. (By the way, the Felafels tasted awful to me. There is no word for it — I took it home and fed it to my cat. My cat stared at me with a look that says, “What the hell is this?!”)

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If you scan The Halal Guys’ reviews on Zomato, each review had one word in common – Bland. While the Gyro meat was imported as well, the meat lacked flavor. The small platters were hardly Asian in size and failed to create an affordable option for a street food concept that has been elevated. By nature, we love huge servings without being paralyzed among Small, Regular and New York Size serving options, and telling customers there’s more meat in the New York size versus the Regular size would naturally shift customer behavior to choose the New York size. I can’t help but compare this to Pepper Lunch Express’ Beef Pepper Rice where you can P50 to the regular order for a beef upsize, but you don’t really feel the difference! The only way to capture the Filipino market is to make Filipinos feel they are getting the most out of their hard-earned money.

The Halal Guys Philippines menu 3

The Halal Guys Philippines menu 3

On the brighter side, the Halal Guys regularly post updates on Twitter about their queue to better manage the influx of crowd. It was highly organized and very impressive for a newcomer in the food business. I waited around 45 minutes for my order, and the time could still be shorten on the side of the cashier.

I felt cheated, and I might as well spend 500 bucks somewhere else. There’s very little reason for me to go back to the Halal Guys franchise here in the metro. And as for the others who got to try it before the Halal Guys officially opened, maybe serving free and unlimited white and hot sauce did the trick.

Have you tried the Halal Guys? Share your thoughts on Candid Cuisine!

The Halal Guys Philippines Rating:

Taste and Originality: (2.5 / 5)
Customer Experience: (3.0 / 5)
Value for Money: (2.0 / 5)
Brick and Mortar: (1.5 / 5)
Average: (2.3 / 5)