Ruchi Cafe And The Tale Of Two Street Meats

Ruchi Cafe 1

I went back to the basics this week to try and find the Financial District’s equivalent of the street meat all-stars reigning over Midtown we hear so much about. It’s always “Famous Halal Guys” this and “Trini-Paki Boys” that. Well when’s it gonna be our turn? When are we gonna have a Halal cart to make the Midtowners drool? This is the mission I’ve taken upon myself: to find the best Halal cart downtown. It will be difficult, but I am willing to sacrifice many a lunch break in this treacherous journey. And I shall not rest until I have found that cart.

*Ahem* Right. So, the cart that caught my eye this round is called Ruchi Cafe on Maiden Lane between William and Nassau. I’ve been keeping an out for any stirrings at the downtown Baoguette location at 9 Maiden Lane and when I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary a couple weeks ago, I took a wander down the road and stumbled across this cart. I didn’t remember seeing it there before so I took a gamble on a rainy day to see what I could come up with.

First Meal from Ruchi Cafe 3

The chicken was good, pretty flavorful, and the white sauce had a pleasantly minty aftertaste to it. But there, right in the corner of my carton, was a single cube of avocado. It’s like it was teasing me. Like it was saying, “If you hadn’t been so hasty as to order chicken over rice, you might have seen the menu item that I actually belong on.” Disappointed but still hungry, I dug into my salad. Lo and behold, a treasure trove of avocado! This was surely the best street meat cart ever if it gave you heaps of avocado in the salad! With french fries too! And grilled onions! To top it all off, they’d handed me a dollar off coupon at the end of the transaction! Oh yeah, this was Downtown’s big break in the street meat department.

First Meal from Ruchi Cafe 2

I wasn’t about to write this sucker up without seeing if the coupon worked first. After all, it said it big bold letters at the top that it was good for another meal TODAY. As in, the day I bought my first one. The guy behind the counter told me to ignore it but I was still skeptical. The next week I headed back, craving that glorious mound of avocado hidden beneath the ho-hum facade of iceberg lettuce. Handed in my coupon… success! Took the goods to a nearby bench and when I popped it open, no avocado. The chicken didn’t taste the same. The mintiness of the sauce was gone. What happened? I needed a third go round to see which of these dishes was the real deal.

Most Recent Meal from Ruchi Cafe 3

So yesterday, cold and rainy once more, it was now or never. I swung buy and picked up my chicken and rice. No coupon exchange in either direction. Once back in the confines of my cubicle, I popped the top and was confronted with the new reality. No avocado. On the plus side, the flavor of the chicken was back (which in hind sight, may actually have been a result of rainy days. Without the sun, customers are less likely to venture out, leaving the chicken to sit on that grill browning for a bit longer). It was lemony, almost refreshing, with a good amount of browning throughout. Despite the browning, the chicken was still plenty moist. To compliment, there were roasted peppers (both red and green), and a salad composed of iceberg lettuce, red onion, peppers (again, both red and green), tomato (practically a whole one, though one half was on its way out), and a bit of red cabbage. All those flavors made for a really pleasant side salad.

Most Recent Meal from Ruchi Cafe 1

The meal was good and satisfied my hunger, but not my appetite for adventure, nor my desire to seek out the best Downtown has to offer. This was no Downtown street meat king. Maybe a knight or something. I know my holy grail is out there somewhere. I’ve just got to keep looking.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • If you’re lucky, you might find avocados or a dollar off coupon thrown in the mix
  • The chicken was lemony and delicious
  • I wish more carts’ salads consisted of more than just lettuce and tomatoes. Way to go!

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. I want my avocado and french fries back!
  • They might give me a lot of tomatos, why couldn’t they give me good ones?
  • Where are the stand-out Halal carts? Everything is pretty much the same.

Ruchi Cafe Cart, Maiden Lane (btw. William & Nassau)



  • Dan, you forgot Kwik Meal in your absent minded downtown rambling.

  • CheeeeEEEEse,
    It’s Chris, not Dan.

  • nice review! Try South St at Wall (on South Street corner, at Citibank). It’s even better on a nice sunny day where you can enjoy your meal on a bench and watch the boats go by. One advantage we downtowners have over midtown.

  • Absent minded me, Chris, since Dan is off.

  • They all look pretty good–but I think I’m taking a break from streemeat for a while….that last little morrocco platter I got Tues. night lasted me 3 meals and then some. I think I need to do some home cooking at least once this week.

  • this was a great lunch report… chris for president

  • Chris, what’s your take on Adel’s at 180 Maiden?

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    Does anyone know what happened to the soup cart on broad? (down the street from yip’s?)

  • Chris – there’s an XPL cart down here somewhere too. And I think Michael’s is pretty much the cart around here to go to – due to its real lamb chunks.

    speater – do you mean the soup cart on Broad & Beaver? Across from Cosi and Starbucks at 55 Broad? It should be there. I’ve seen him recently.

  • OH AND BAOGUETTE IS OPENING DOWN HERE that is the best news ever so I can finally try it… :)

  • Yvo – I believe that the downtown XPL cart is on Wall Street, at Pearl.

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    @yvo – yup, that cart. Hasn’t been there in 3-4 days, and the cart across the street seemed pretty happy about it, and said he wasn’t coming back. Any other soup carts around?

  • There’s an XPL at Barclay and West Broadway. Still a bit too far for folks in the WFC

  • Why don’t you Downtowner’s do a Street Meat Palooza too?

  • Hungry, I was thinking that myself.

    Zach said they’re working on a downtownlunch sibling of midtownlunch.

    I fully expect by summer for there to be a downtownlunchstreetmeatpalooza to counter the midtownlunchstreetmeatpalooza.

    Of course to be followed by the WORLD SERIES OF STREETMEAT….

  • I like the way you’re thinking Adam!

  • Patience my friends. Patience… all will be revealed in time. :-)

  • @speater – they were there today when I walked by and went into Cafe Doppio. It’s the same cart with the American flag decorated placard around the top. I didn’t see the “HOT SOUP” sign but it was the same guy.

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    @yvo- hmm i think we’re talking about two different carts? Because I went to Doppio too and I didn’t see him on my way over. I’m talking about the guy on the SW corner of Broad and Beaver, the same block that Yip’s is on. He usually has like 10 soups, serves with bread and the beef chili’s $1 more.

  • I wish that first plate was still around.

    What’s the prices?

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