How much chicken can one man eat?
This question and more were set out to be answered on a U Club Binghamton shuttle to the University Downtown Center (UDC) and the Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) Leroy Southside to Main and Floral.
The greater Binghamton area is home to thriving immigrant communities, represented by the variety of restaurants surrounding our school. In viewing these options, one particular culinary option stands out in its frequency: halal.
Halal chicken is poultry prepared under the Islamic tradition of dhabihah, in which meat is prepared in accordance with Islamic law. Producers of halal chicken must obtain religious certification to ensure they are properly following the process.
Given the multitude of halal restaurants in the Binghamton area, one question must come to mind: which is the best? To answer this question, I went to six local spots and tried a small chicken and rice platter with white sauce with each one.
In no way, with these reviews, am I trying to critique halal cuisine and food as a whole. This should serve as a guide to students interested in halal restaurants across the community — I have nothing but respect for anyone who follows a halal diet.
Sixth place: Royal Fried Chicken (52 Main St.)
Price: $7 (drink included in price)
On Binghamton’s Main Street, you can find Royal Fried Chicken, a locally owned joint. Upon ordering, one thing immediately stood out: the value. Coming in at a clean $7, the meal gives you a good portion size and comes with a drink included. While the meal wasn’t the most mind-blowing I’ve had, with the chicken being inconsistent, the rice and white sauce provided a nice balance and the meal was filling. Royal Fried Chicken is a great option for those who want the best value for their money.
Fifth place: Maryam’s Mart (69 Court St.)
Located in the heart of Downtown Binghamton on Court Street, Maryam’s Mart is a highly frequented, late-night student favorite. The most standout part of this meal was the white sauce, creating the perfect creamy overtone for the platter. While the chicken was decently seasoned, it ran on the dry side of the spectrum. The rice is overall a nonfactor, but it was smooth and fresh. If you are craving halal while downtown, Maryam’s Mart is a good spot to turn to.
Fourth place: The Halal Guys (4700 Vestal Pkwy E.)
A recent addition to the University Plaza, The Halal Guys, is an offshoot of the legendary New York City food cart with the same name. Eating this platter, it’s not difficult to imagine how they gained such massive fame. The chicken served its role as the main event well. The orange rice itself was a bit tough. The Halal Guys’ famous white sauce tasted of ranch with additional cream, helping add a little pop to the rice. Overall a solid platter, although it is worth noting its slightly higher price.
Third place: Noor Halal Food & More (144 Grand Ave.)
Noor Halal Food & More is perhaps the most unsuspecting spot on this list, as no signs out front proclaims its menu. Yet once you are inside and figure out where to order you will find one of the best halal chicken platters in the Binghamton area. The white sauce is creamy, the chicken well-seasoned and all tied together by a solid bed of rice. When you factor in the jaw-droppingly low price, you get a platter that is tough to beat with all factors considered. This is the best value for a meal.
Second place: Halal Bites (652 Riverside Dr.)
The furthest out of the way from the Downtown Binghamton area, Halal Bites made the trip out to Johnson City worthwhile. All of the parts worked together in harmony in this well-flavored and balanced platter. For one, they had by far the best white sauce, with the perfect amount of creaminess. The chicken and rice worked well in tandem and had potent flavors that did not overwhelm the palate. With superb indoor seating, Halal Bites is a great spot to enjoy a great platter with great company and has a reputation for being an underground student favorite.
First place: Kennedy Fried Chicken & Gyro (159 Main St.)
Located in the heart of Binghamton’s Main Street, just a stone’s throw away from Royal Fried Chicken, Kennedy Fried Chicken & Gyro is a small place where you order through a literal hole in the wall. The platter that awaited me packed a strong punch. One of the most unique aspects was the savory, fresh red chicken which paired with the white sauce to create a rich explosion of flavor. This was aided by my favorite part: rice that had a clear flavor of chicken stock, providing a hearty balance to the meal. The interplay between each part was fantastic, and yet each part stood out as a strength on its own. Of all the platters, this was the one that I enjoyed the most, and the flavors of the platter stick with me still. Overall, it was a unique eating experience with a decently priced, great meal worth it for the rice alone.
At the end of this culinary adventure, Kennedy Fried Chicken & Gyro’s combination of incredible flavors and value rose to the top. However, Halal Bites and Noor Halal Food & More are both highly recommendable themselves. For those craving a plate of halal food, Binghamton provides no shortage of options.