Magdy’s Cart Makes Me Wonder: What the Hell is Chicken Scampi?
I was on the prowl for some street meat yesterday (thanks to everyone for twittering their recommendations @midtowlunch) when I noticed this sign on the Magdy’s Philly Cheesesteak Cart (on Park Ave & 46th St.) I’m sure it’s always been there, but Magdy’s is known for their philly cheesesteaks… and I just never noticed it before.
Scampi means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To my mom it meant breaded shrimp baked in a pyrex dish covered in Pam cooking spray. At most Italian restaurants it involves shrimp, butter, garlic, and white wine. In England it’s fried lobster! I was super curious what it meant to a cheese-steak cart in Midtown.
Can you believe the line at this place? At 12:10 on a Tuesday! Amazing. I wonder if this partially has to do with their ordering system. As soon as you get in line, a lady comes and “takes your order” and your money. At that point, you’re stuck… and even if you decide you don’t want to wait, you’ve already paid for your lunch. Very smart! (Technically you could still get your money back since it doesn’t really matter what you tell the lady you want. The guy doesn’t make your plate until you get to the very front of the line anyway.)
Sadly, it turns out that Magdy’s “Chicken Scampi” is just plain old chicken over rice (no clue where they got “scampi” from.) It’s the same chicken over rice plate that came in last place at Street Meat Palooza last July, and I can’t say I disagree. It was fine, and the chicken is good quality chunks (although kind of dry.) But in the end I wasn’t down with the waterlogged rice and the grilled onions (normally I love grilled onions, but the chicken over rice purist in me wasn’t into it), and the whole time I kept thinking I would much rather be eating a plate from the XPL Cart (on 48th and Park). If you are a fan of a more “Americanized” (i.e. less scary) street meat, this could be the chicken over rice for you. Next time I’ll stick with their subs (chicken or steak and cheese), which are unmatched in taste and price on the streets of Midtown.
Magdy’s Cheesesteak Cart, SE corner of 46th & Park Ave.