Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Restaurant Review : Hala Chicken

By Thomas Chen  /  Contributing reporter

A Double Deluxe Set for two includes chicken over rice, chicken gyro pita bread with hummus dip and mushroom soup.

Photo courtesy of Hala Chicken

New York City might conjure up images of hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas, but chicken over rice is just as much a part of the food scene in the Big Apple, having assimilated cuisines by people from throughout the world.

So New York natives living in Taipei may rejoice with the opening of Hala Chicken in September of last year in Taipei’s East District because it serves up the kind of street food that would not be out of place in Manhattan.

A neon yellow sign embedded in a carved mural of the New York skyline beckons diners to the stall. Below the sign is a four-person bar, beyond which is the restaurant’s kitchen, its checkered floor and brick wallpaper giving the place a classic American diner look.

Hala Chicken’s co-founder/owner Alan Chiang (蔣委倫) grew up in New York where many street corners had a food cart serving quality food. He recently brought back to Taiwan his version of chicken over rice, an evolution of Middle Eastern cuisine and New York street food popularized by The Halal Guys.

Though the name is similar, Chiang makes it clear that Hala Chicken is not halal, meaning that its food is not in compliance with Islamic dietary law.

My order of Chicken Over Rice with pita bread (NT$130) was ready in a few minutes. Stuffed into a brown paper take-out bag, I laid its contents on the bar table. First, a mini plastic cup containing what New Yorkers would call “white sauce,” a mix of yogurt with a slight hint of mayonnaise (that veteran eaters might find a little too sweet), and another containing hot sauce, a mix of four kinds of chili peppers. My meal came in a foil dish, on top of which was a half piece of pita bread. I immediately poured the two sauces onto the chicken which lay atop a bed of basmati rice with crisp lettuce and fresh tomato.

Hala Chicken

Address: 135-3, Yanji Street, Taipei City (台北市延吉街135-3號)

Telephone: (02) 8772-6300

Open: Monday to Saturday from 11am to 8:45pm and Friday from 11am to 9:15pm

Average meal: NT$100

Details: Menu in English and Chinese, no service charge, credit cards not accepted

Website: www.halachicken.com


Mixing the sauce into the dish, I dug in. I found the sauces the right combination of savory and creamy, yet still light and refreshing and going well with the succulent chicken. Along with a smaller dose of the hot sauce, it hits just the right balance.

My friend gave me a taste of his Truffle Chicken Over Rice (NT$150) which has a woody, nutty flavor. Despite being a popular dish, I found it slightly too sharp for my liking and turned my attention back to my meal.

The Chicken Gyro (NT$80) is a must try. Chicken, lettuce, rice and tomato wrapped in pita bread and secured with tin foil. The white sauce and chili sauce can be poured in at once, or added after each bite (I recommend the latter).

I took home a plate of their pita bread (NT$30) plus their homemade hummus (NT$20), which paired well with the dip. A guilt-free midnight snack.

Overall, Hala Chicken is a welcome addition to Taiwan’s street food scene, a combination of tastes both exotic and familiar.

Their second branch opened last month in Neihu District (內湖) and is located at 163 Yangguang St, Taipei City (台北市陽光街163號 ), tel (02) 8797-1900.

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