We went on an around the world tour recently. Auckland – San Francisco – New York – Abu Dhabi – Dubai – Hong Kong – Auckland. Inspired by my travels, I am starting a series telling stories about the places from our trip.
New York is the heart of the world. Coming from slower-paced Auckland to bustling New York, I was blown away by the ingenuity of the locals.
The skyscrapers, the view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge during sunset and the Latin American café that served free sangria were some of the long list of places that provoked a feeling of wonder in me.
Just as people always remember not your actions and words but how it made them feel, I may not remember the details of each place but the emotions evoked during my visit.
The Halal Guys Street Eats
A food cart on 53rd and 6th that serves meat on rice – with the most amazing white sauce.
Two hungry tourists who just arrived in New York, a little jet-lagged and craving for a hearty meal. In the back of their minds, they remember hearing three raving reviews about this food truck called The Halal Guys.
They arrive at the food stall, the aroma from the sizzling meats incites a tummy rumble. It smells heavenly.
The food arrives within 3 minutes of ordering. It’s fast.
There are three types of sauces, white, spicy and bbq sauce. It is unlimited for all. It’s generous.
They dig in. The flavours, the tenderness of meat, the warmth from the meal come together in perfect harmony to evoke a feeling of wow.
The portion was so large that they threw out some of the meal, they wished they could finish it all but it was just impossible.
That was my experience with The Halal Guys in New York.
Every step of the journey they exceeded my expectation of what a regular food truck would do. They are fast, cheap, flavourful and generous.
We had the Halal Guys five times over the six nights in New York.
The unique combination of this Egyptian American fusion dish, the experience of eating it by the street next to the Hilton hotel and the flavours infused make me think that Mohamed Abouelenein (founder of the Halal Guys) is a very smart guy.
He pioneered the food cart 20 years ago and has since started a food truck culture in New York.
This food truck is so successful because he recognised a demand and he filled it.
Uber Taxi Service
An instant cab service that is cheap, fast and convenient. (Originally from SF not NY)
Sounds like just another taxi service? Uber is different.
My first experience started with our ride to SF airport. Within minutes of ordering a cab on the Uber app, a Toyota Prius in pristine condition pulls up. The driver offers to place our luggage in the boot, the car is jasmine-scented and classical music is playing in the background. I feel instantly relaxed.
In the front seat there is another passenger. We are ridesharing. Great, the journey will cost less than expected.
It ends up costing us $15 each, which is less than what it would cost to take a train. We would also have had to lug our bags between stations and walk for at least 15 minutes.
Once again, I am amazed at the cleverness behind this idea. Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp are definitely geniuses. They met the basic need of transport by creating an app and jobs for those looking to earn money.
- Efficient, the Uber taxi arrives within 5 minutes (Thanks to the smart algorithm behind the Uber app that optimises waiting time)
- Cheaper than regular taxis, sometimes
- Drivers are everyday people like you and I looking to supplement their income (All you need is a car less than 10 years old)
- Rideshare option reduces cost, congestion and engine emissions
Other noteworthy moments:
- Airbnb Accommodation
- Lottery and stand-up tickets for Broadway musicals
- Momofuku soft serve made from cereal milk
- Bauhaus pork belly buns
- Free stand-up comedy at a random bar