I admit it. I'm a tourist and I love Halal Guys. I still try to go to the famous location even though the other locations should theoretically be the same.
But on my last trip, two out of three times I had it, they were serving the meat out of hotel pans that were placed on the grill instead of actually serving the meat straight off the grill.
Both times, the meal was very underwhelming. The meat was lukewarm and had absolutely no flavor since it's essentially a pile of steaming meat with no char or caramelization at all.
The one time I got meat straight off the grill, it was as good a plate of food as I remembered it being. Well-seasoned, full of flavor from having caramelization and charred edges from being on the grill.
Is there a way to guarantee that the meat will be served off the grill and not just scooped out of those hotel pans?
Here's my experience:
Daytime Halal Guys stand across street from famous location - scooped from hotel pan
11pm famous location on a Wednesday - AMAZING meat straight off grill
12pm famous location on a Thursday - scooped from hotel pan
When I saw those pans of meat on the grill that third time, I was pretty disappointed. But it was my buddy's first day in town and all he wanted was Halal Guys, so we got it anyway.
I wish we were staying at a hotel with a kitchen. I could order a combo plate with sauce on the side, bring it back to the room, and pan fry the meat to get some flavor on it.