A new halal fast food joint has been gaining buzz with its powerhouse combo of simple but well-made smashburgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Yoyo Chicken, which opened late November in a Baldwin strip mall, was packed with people on a recent Friday night. And although the dining room is pretty small — it used to be a Jamaican takeout spot — you can see why the place is popular. These smashburgers are good.
Owner Omar Elgammal was most recently a manager at Dunkin', but had previously worked at his dad's halal food truck in Manhattan. When the Baldwin resident (who is originally from Egypt) saw the empty storefront, he knew he wanted to open his own business there. But rather than a typical halal food truck menu, he decided to go with burgers and chicken sandwiches because he liked to cook that for his friends. And they liked it, too.
Elgammal named the restaurant after his 1-year-old son, Younis, and put together a simple menu that focuses on the smashburgers and chicken sandwiches, with a couple varieties of French fries. His wife, Salma, also prepares a sweet rice pudding that is sold with ice cream for dessert. Elgammal said he sources his meat from a local halal butcher in small amounts every other day so he can keep the product fresh and not frozen.
The smashburgers are simple: just ground beef patties with American cheese, caramelized onions and secret Yoyo pink sauce on a potato roll. The burgers don't have those crunchy meat edges that come from searing the meat on the grill, but they're delightfully juicy and flavorful. Since the burgers are smaller, almost like a slider, consider getting the double smashburger ($11) which has a better ratio of meat to bun.
Made from chicken tender meat, the chicken sandwich is also a delight, with an assertively fried patty that gives way to perfectly cooked chicken ($9). Yoyo also makes a fish sandwich, but the fish inside is more like a nugget than a patty, so you'll need to order something else if you want to fill up.
So far, Elgammal said the biggest difference from the food truck to a brick-and-mortar is he now has more interactions with customers. Rather than watching them walk away on a busy street, he gets to see them hanging out in the small dining room and enjoying the food.
Yoyo Chicken, 766 Merrick Rd., Baldwin, 516-362-5707, yoyochicken.com. Open 11 a.m. to midnight daily.