- We compared menu items between Halal Guys in the US and UK to find out the big differences between the two.
- Halal Guys red sauce ranges from between 100,000 to 130,000 on the Scoville scale.
- The baklava in the UK actually contains some questionable food colorings.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Harry Kersh: From calorie count to portion sizes, we wanted to find out all the differences between Halal Guys in the UK and the US. This is “Food Wars.”
Harry: In the UK, you can get your order in three portion sizes. As a small platter, as a regular platter, or as a sandwich.
Joe: The Halal Guys in the US, your order can come in three sizes: small, regular, sandwich.
Harry: We’re going to weigh a regular platter in both countries to see whose is the biggest. [beep] It’s been so many episodes. Why don’t we just get bigger scales? Bear with us one second. [elevator music plays] First half is about 337 grams. 337 plus 321, six five eight? Quick maths.
Joe: This thing, we need to wash this thing. It’s getting funky in here. Here we go, the regular. Whoa, fits in perfectly. 640. 640 grams. That’s a full meal. Oh, man, this smells so good.
Harry: Fries in the UK only come in one portion size, this one.
Joe: In the US, The Halal Guys also only have one size fries. Look at this case. Have you seen this? Do you think it’s to keep them crispy, so they don’t get soggy? Very smart. Very innovative. I want to eat this so badly. We gotta weigh it first.
Harry: This could be another brick. [fries plop onto scale] Ayy. So, a side of fries from a UK Halal Guys came to 213 grams.
Joe: Wait. Oh, yeah, OK. Yeah. 145 grams for one size of Halal Guys fries. Oh, yeah. Yo. I’ve never gotten the fries. These are good! Crispy. Don’t sleep on the Halal Guys fries.
Harry: In the UK, a side of hummus only comes in one size, and it’s this one right here.
Joe: In the US of A, Halal Guys hummus only comes in one size, and, of course, we are going to weigh it.
Harry: So, our side order of hummus came in at 246 grams. I’m going to eat all of this as soon as the cameras stop rolling. A side order of baba ghanoush in the UK only comes in one size as well.
Joe: In the US, the baba ghanoush at The Halal Guys is also just one size.
Harry: In the UK, you can get a side of falafel, and it comes as a two-piece serving. We did ask for some, but I think the guy forgot, so we don’t have any to show you.
Joe: In the US at The Halal Guys, you can get your falafel in three sizes: two pieces, four pieces, or six pieces.
Harry: We can also get falafel sandwiches. Let’s take some measurements. Our falafel sandwich is 8 inches (20cm) in diameter. And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, we’re going to measure the girth. The tape measurer is really not fit to task. Actually, that’s going to work. And our falafel sandwich has a girth of, let’s say, 7-and-a-bit inches.
Joe: From pita to pita, 8 inches (20cm)? Yeah? Oh, look at that! And it’s 8 inches (20cm) thick. 8 and 8. I like when things are just precise like that.
Harry: And, finally, it weighs 286 grams.
Joe: And a falafel sandwich at the US Halal Guys ♪ weighs ♪ like, exactly — [burps] Excuse me. Exactly 250 grams.
Harry: In the UK, if you want dessert at Halal Guys, you can get baklava. It comes in a two-piece serving.
Joe: Halal Guys in the US, the baklava comes in one size, in this one piece. This piece right here. Oops, I ordered two! I guess I’ll just have to eat one. Who am I kidding? I’m eating both of these.
Harry: Unfortunately, Halal Guys doesn’t make its nutritional information available for its UK products. We did find some in the store, and, luckily, I took a picture. From this, we now know that the sandwiches range anywhere from 419 calories to 694 calories, and the platters range anywhere from 471 calories to 1,049 calories. It’s fairly safe to assume that the 1,049-calorie platter is probably one of the meat ones with all of the sides, all of the sauces, pretty much everything you can get. 1,049 calories will take you to just over half of your normal daily allowance.
Joe: The combo platter is said to be Halal Guys’ most popular menu item. This is a regular combo platter before any white or red sauce has been added. I would recommend not eating it until it is added. That’s just me. Our regular combo platter is 794 calories, 23 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1,998 milligrams of sodium, which I believe is 86% of your daily intake, and also 96 grams of carbs. Of course we’re adding white and red sauces, right? OK. The white sauce pouch. One of these is roughly 330 calories, 37 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 420 milligrams of sodium. 420. [bell dings] And 2 grams of carbs. See this guy right here? Each package of their hot sauce adds only 7 calories, but 89 milligrams of sodium.
Harry: Let’s talk about the red sauce. Now, according to the Halal Guys website, their red sauce ranges from between 100,000 to 130,000 on the Scoville scale. To put that in perspective, sriracha is somewhere around 2,500 on the same scale, and the infamous “Hot Ones” Da Bomb sauce is around 135,000. So pretty close to this.
Joe: Halal Guys has something called the Hot Sauce Challenge. What it is, is a small platter with 20 lines of their hot sauce, and you’ve got to be able to eat the whole thing in 10 minutes with no assistance of any beverages, not only during while you’re eating it, but also five minutes after.
Harry: Sorry, what are we doing?
Joe: So, one, two –
Harry: It’s times like this where you’re like, “I should have a will written, just in case.” That’s four. Oh, my God. If I don’t make it out of this, someone tell my cat that I love him.
20. I’ll just put this whole thing in there. [laughs] This is such a bad idea.
Producer: You ready?
Producer: Set, go.
Joe: All right. [ominous music plays] Whoa. Yo! [coughs] Oh, my God. This stuff is really hot. Oh, man. I’m getting a metallic taste in my mouth, like my mouth might be bleeding.
Harry: [laughs] [coughs] OK. Yep, that’s immediately spicy. No slow burn here.
Joe: Oh, God. This was a mistake. [coughs] It’s, like, really good, dude.
Harry: Oh, God. More.
Joe: How long’s it been? [cry-laughs] OK, OK. I think I can manage this.
Harry: [laughs] My eyes are watering. The throat is hurting. [clears throat]
Joe: This is really hot. My tongue, back of the mouth, everything. [pounding]
Harry: No way I’m lasting five minutes. I’m breaking early. God. [steam hisses]
I’m throwing in the towel. I can’t do it.
Joe: Yeah. Holy s—. How long was that?
Producer: Three minutes and 10 seconds.
Harry: See, Nando’s? That is spice. If you advertise something as spicy, at least deliver. And that’s what Halal Guys have done. [production crew laughing] Whew!
Joe: People who build up tolerance in their mouth for spice, they also have the tolerance for it going out. Because the worst thing about spicy food for me is — the second worst is eating it. The first worst is — it’ll be about in five hours. Speaking of which. It would have been smarter to do this at the end of the shoot. Now, if you were to go with the falafel sandwich in the US, it would be 641 calories, 26 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 1,259 milligrams of sodium, and 82 grams of carbs. [pants]
Harry: Currently, Halal Guys don’t provide that much information when it comes to the ingredients of their meats and rices. What we do know, as you can imagine, is that Halal Guys’ food is, indeed, halal certified.
Joe: The Halal Guys chicken recipe is a secret. So we assume, similar to other Middle Eastern street meats, it is marinated in herbs, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I got all of this info from the Halal Guys “Legendary Eats” story we did about a year ago, so thank you to those producers for doing my homework.
Harry: The beef is also a secret recipe, but from what we know, it’s likely to be flavored with things like salt, pepper, oregano, and paprika.
Joe: But The Halal Guys can’t be tight-lipped on their sauces now that they’re available for retail. So the hot sauce in the US, and assuming the UK, ingredients are ground red pepper, vinegar, salt, various spices, question mark, question mark, question mark? And concentrated lemon juice. White sauce: soybean oil, water, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, less than 2% of salt, sugar, spices, natural flavors, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, and calcium disodium EDTA, or “ed-ta,” to maintain freshness. Contains eggs.
Harry: According to the white sauce packets, it contains soybean oil, water, egg, spirit vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, preservative potassium sorbate, thickener xanthan gum, mustard, antioxidant calcium disodium EDTA, and natural flavoring.
Joe: For the Halal Guys pita bread, I had to do some deep investigative journalism. Specifically, I called The Halal Guys in downtown LA, and they told me that the pitas they use are these: Kontos Gyro Bread Pre-Oiled. Is this the pita breads they use for all Halal Guys? I called and emailed Kontos, and they did not get back to me. Guys, what’s the story? So I’m gonna assume that they do. So this pita contains unbleached, unbrom, bromated, no. Unbleached, unbromated, enriched flour, niacin , thiamine , reduced iron, riboflavin , folic acid, water, and soybean oil, and contains 2% or less of the following ingredients: calcium propionate , corn syrup solids. OK. Fumaric acid, guar gum, salt, sesame flour, sodium bicarbonate, sorbic acid , soy flour, sugar, vegetable mono- and diglycerides, vegetable L-cysteine, wheat enzymes, whole-wheat flour, and yeast.
Harry: One thing to look out for there is the fumaric acid that they use. While this is practically nontoxic because the amounts in our food are very small, the European Union does say that in high doses, this can be nephrotoxic, which is toxic to your kidneys. So you might want to go easy on the pitas. One thing we found out just by purchasing the product is that the baklava in the UK actually contains some questionable food colorings. The first is Blue 1, also known as Brilliant Blue. This is kind of hard to come by in the UK, as it’s just fallen out of favor thanks to the Smarties controversy. Blue 1 used to be the blue coloring used in Smarties in the UK. However, it was removed after there was a panic about it potentially causing hyperactivity in children. It famously took Smarties years to come up with a natural replacement for the blue coloring. They finally settled on spirulina, which is made from seaweed. On a not unrelated note, there’s also Yellow 5 in here, also known as tartrazine. Yellow 5 is one of the chemicals highlighted by a 2007 study investigating links between food colorings and hyperactivity in children. The initial results did seem to show a link between the two; however, since then, people have backtracked and said that further study may be required. Despite that, foods containing these chemicals in the European Union must still bear a warning that they may have an adverse effect on attention in children. We don’t see a warning on this box, so Halal Guys, you might want to update your packaging. [baklava crunches]
Harry: Here is everything you will only find on the menu at a UK Halal Guys.
Joe: Here are the exclusives you can get in the USA.
Harry: Yeah, believe it or not, this is probably our shortest exclusive section ever. All the things you can only find on the menu in the UK are an orange Fanta or a lemon Fanta. I’m assuming you guys do have Fanta in the US, but for me, obviously, Fanta orange is the classic. However, Fanta lemon, absolutely amazing. For some reason it’s not super common in the UK, but if you go into mainland Europe, particularly slightly hotter places like Spain or Greece, this is kind of everywhere. So for me, it just brings back memories of, like, being on a beach bar with my family, sipping a Fanta lemon, having a great time.
Joe: So, forgive me if I’m wrong. I didn’t see this anywhere on the Halal Guys London menus. It is 16.9 fluid ounces of the white sauce. Look how big this is. This is hilarious. Ugh. Side of olives. Oh, you can also get a side of jalapeños. If the hot sauce wasn’t hot enough, here you go. You can also get yourself a side of tahini. For desserts, you can also get Halal Guys cookies.
Harry: That’s pretty much it. I’m going to go and lie down, because hot sauce is a terrible invention. Cheers.
Joe: You know why this is trouble, though? Because it still tastes really good. I mean [laughs], I’m a glutton for punishment.