A slew of snazzy new food trucks are parked in Midtown along Sixth Ave. in recent years, near the B train station at 42nd St.-Bryant Park. They’re a fantastic addition to the nabe, but don’t forget about good long-standing vendors like these three. They’re there all day, every day, feeding commuters, tourists, taxi drivers and everyone in between.
Here’s how to find Royal Halal Food, at least during lunch on weekdays: It’s the cart with the line that stretches almost to Fifth Ave. Regulars wait for good reason. Md Alam and his wife Hira make everything “from the heart,” says Alam, who is originally from Bangladesh. Hira started the operation on her own in 2005, says Alam, but when business took off, he quit his restaurant management job and joined her.
A decade later they’re usually still there seven days a week, dropping by on days off to marinate the chicken tikka masala (over rice, $ 6), a customer favorite. Others include a fluffy chicken biryani with whole hard-boiled eggs and chapli kebab ($ 6), or spiced beef patties over rice.
Most meals are served with mango chutney and a bright green squiggle of the Alam’s green chili sauce, a blend of garlic, chili, cilantro and black mustard seeds. The cart also has a secret stash of fresh green Indian chilis for South Asian customers, or anyone else who likes the heat.
Royal Halal Food: Daily near the southwest corner of 44th St. at Sixth Ave., (347) 724-0504
The first famous food truck
Before food trucks were fancy, trained chef Mohammed Rahman’s tiny silver Kwik Meal Cart was celebrated for its mobile cuisine, showing up on CBS’ “The Early Show” cooking segment with Bobby Flay. Today, the nearly 20-year-old, 24-hour cart is still a hit, with three employees like Md Sarker, who usually works his 12-hour shift from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. (It’s slower then, he says, but “still hard work.”)
Rahman’s specialty was and is his fork-tender lamb, marinated and then grilled to order by staffers like Sarker, who tops it with jalapeno and white sauces and prefers his over rice with a side of vegetables. (The regular platter is $ 9, the veggies side is $ 2.50.)
Another way to enjoy the lamb — there’s also chicken, falafel, shrimp and veggies — is in a pita, in a combo meal, or rolled up in a kati roll, a flaky hand-made flatbread toasted on the grill. The lamb version is $ 5, chicken $ 3.50.
Kwik Meal Cart: Daily near the southwest corner of 45th St. at Sixth Ave., (917) 438-8449
Lemon-laced hot dogs
Foodies can say what they want about so-called dirty water dogs, but they’ve been a beloved (and delicious, when done well) part of New York City’s streetscape for decades. So has Singh Rashpal, a 64-year-old hot dog vendor who has been on the job for 22 years.
Rashpal — he calls his business Roshen’s Push Cart, after his nickname — has sold hot dogs all over Manhattan, he says. That includes the boathouse at Central Park, 42nd St. and Broadway, 37th St. and Ninth Ave., 56th St. and Sixth Ave. (where you’ll find him most weekdays) and 43rd St. and Sixth Ave. (where he now perches most weekends).
Over the years he’s learned some tricks. He keeps a few whole lemons — slashed through to the pulp — floating in the hot water where he stores his franks ($ 3 for plain, $ 4 for chili-topped), a move that gives them a subtle tang and also keeps them from deteriorating. He also knows to skip the winters. In the coldest months, he returns home to see family in India.
Roshen’s Push Cart: Daily on Sixth Ave. between W. 56th and 43rd Sts., no phone