I’ll never forget a trip my wife and I were lucky enough to take to New York City while we were dating and I was working my way through library school. Among other things, I grabbed this incredible lunch from a halal food cart near 30 Rockefeller Center. It was so simple, but pretty perfect: gyro meat (possibly lamb, but who can really say?), rice, salad, pita bread, mysterious white sauce and painful hot sauce, eaten out of a tinfoil plate while surrounded by the excitement, adventure, and passion of the greatest city in the world (as well as our own). When we returned for our honeymoon in 2009, I found an unrelated halal cart and tried their version of the gyro platter. It was almost identical, but still satisfying, especially with the nostalgia factor working for it.
We were even luckier to return to Manhattan last year, a decade later, to celebrate our tenth anniversary. (And how lucky were we that our tenth anniversary fell in 2019 and not the hell year 2020?) We ate like kings on that trip, but one thing I didn’t seek out were the halal food vendors. Who needed them, now that we have Oh My Gyro (https://www.facebook.com/ohmygyro/) to deliver the New York halal street food experience to the suburbs of Seminole County? Oh My Gyro is owned by the Kermali family, transplanted New Yorkers who have nailed the flavors of the ubiquitous street food and bolstered their menu with some Indian dishes and a few special surprises.
I can’t help it — I’ve been here four times (with far too much time in between each visit), but until today, I have always ordered the same thing, because it’s a flawless meal: the lamb combo platter ($9.89), with salty, garlicky gyro-seasoned lamb meat served over perfectly cooked yellow rice with pita bread, lettuce, and tomatoes. I ask for plenty of their cool, creamy white sauce (stop giggling, you guys!), a bit of the spicy red hot sauce (like the NYC version, it’s VERY spicy, and a little goes a long way, even for those who crave the burn), and it even comes with a soda.
They also offer chicken and falafel on these platters, but my wife and I both love gyros — and lamb in all forms, really — so that will always be our top choice. When I went back today, I ordered a large lamb platter for my wife (only $8.99 when it isn’t a combo with the soda, and peep that white sauce on the side). She liked it a lot, as I always do.
I have been missing the occasional Indian buffet lunches at Moghul Indian Cuisine my co-workers and I used to enjoy pre-pandemic, and I was craving samosas. Luckily, Oh My Gyro serves vegetarian, beef, and chicken samosas. I’ve never tried theirs, so this time I ordered the vegetarian ($4.99) and beef ($5.99), not realizing each order would come with four adorable, perfectly folded, perfectly fried samosas.
These were very thin and crispy, in what reminded me of spring roll wrappers. The samosas at Moghul, on the other hand, are larger and in a thicker, flakier, almost pie crust-like shell. But these both had a lot of flavor and a surprising amount of heat, from both the ground beef in sauce and the spiced mashed potatoes in the vegetarian ones.
But the main reason I returned to Oh My Gyro today was for a special they were only running today (Friday) — spicy, East African-style bone-in veal biryani ($12), which promised to be braised until tender. I am a sucker for stewed and braised meats, especially when they’re cooked low and slow until they’re tender enough to fall off the bone. I’ll take a Turkish lamb shank stewed in tomato sauce (like the ones at Cappadocia), German pork eisbein (like the ones at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe), or giant beef ribs (like the ones at Git-N-Messy BBQ) over steak. But then again, I don’t think steak is the be-all and end-all of meats.
Anyway, this was the veal biryani, served over fluffy basmati rice with a side of pickled onions, hot peppers, and random other vegetables. The meat was deliciously tender, and the sauce had so much flavor. It wasn’t nearly as spicy as I expected, which is fine. It came with a side of cool, creamy, yogurt-based raita to assuage the burn that never came, but it was so good, I was glad they included it.
The two little orange-red balls at the top of the plate, called ladoo, came with it as a bonus. My wife and I had never encountered these before, but they turned out to be sweet! I researched these, and ladoo (or laddu) are made with flour, fat, and sugar, and often contain nuts — these did. They were a pleasant surprise after our lamb platter, veal biryani, and samosassortment. (There. I just created a word.)
But there were more sweet balls in store! I had to get an order of gulab jamun ($2.99), those sticky, syrupy, spongy balls that are a joy at the end of any Indian meal. My wife had never had them before, but I was proud of her for trying one. Of course she liked it. What’s not to like? But they must be REALLY sweet, because she commented on how sweet it is, and how it was too sweet for her to have more than one. Hey, more for me!
As a last-minute choice, I ordered a mango lassi ($2.99), hoping to save it to cut any heat from the biryani. But anyone who knows me can predict what happened next: of course I drank it on the drive home, probably finishing it while I was still in Longwood!
Oh My Gyro is one of those neighborhood gems that doesn’t get enough foodie love, especially being tucked away in a small, easy-to-miss strip along State Road 434 in Longwood, between 17-92 and I-4. I highly recommend it, though. Unfortunately the biryani was a one-day special, but if we’re all lucky, they will bring it back. But if you’ve spent any time in New York City and romanticize the gyro, chicken, or falafel platters with rice you can buy from countless carts to eat on the street, Oh My Gyro will satisfy that craving.