Owner of Shah’s Halal Food Truck, fans of the food discuss its success
Outside the Mondavi Center, on the Quad and clustered at the Silo, food trucks are a staple of the UC Davis campus, but the very first food truck to open on campus was Shah’s Halal in October of 2009.
“I had moved to New York for a bit where I worked in food trucks and learned the way of the business before coming back home to California,” said owner Tory Mashriqi via email. “With the help of my family, we had our first food truck made in Florida and driven from there. Then we started applying to places to park and sell our food. UC Davis had agreed to sign a contract with us, and we haven’t looked back since!”
In a post on the UC Davis subreddit from a year ago that asks “Favorite food truck in campus? And what should we order?” the response “Shah’s Halal food. Chicken over rice, spicy” had the most points. And, according to Mashriqi, chicken over rice is the most common order.
Second-year computer science and engineering major Deeptanshu Sethi’s favorite thing to order is spicy chicken over rice. Sethi said that “the Shah’s experience is warranted at least once a week,” but he goes more often during week zero and finals week.
“Shah’s is more than an eatery,” Sethi said via email. “It’s a journey, a lifestyle. After I’ve eaten Shah’s, I feel as if I have been inoculated with a sensation in which my whole life flashes before my eyes.”
The food truck has many fans and followers — thanks to both its cuisine and reliability. Many food trucks come and go on the UC Davis campus, but Shah’s is dependable. Second-year biochemistry and molecular biology major Aparna Manoj feels the same way about Shah’s as many others, and her go-to order is also the chicken over rice.
“It’s literally the best food I’ve ever tasted and I could never imagine not loving that meal,” Manoj said via email.
The food truck serves about 700 customers a day, according to Mashriqi. He attributes its popularity to the fact that it was the first food truck on campus and that the line always moves quickly. There is another location at University Mall, but Mashriqi said to keep an eye out for another truck or two coming soon.
Manoj finds Shah’s comforting and said the food makes her feel “full, satisfied and happy,” and she always enjoys the experience.
“The food they serve is always warm and very flavorful, and it’s definitely a treat I reserve for when I need a pick-me-up or just want to be in a really good mood,” Manoj said. “Coming from a South-Asian household, their food reminds me of home-cooking, and so Shah’s always makes me feel very comforted, especially if I am feeling a little homesick. More than anything though, the spices and ingredients they use just taste so amazing, and it’s hands-down one of my favorite parts about Davis.”
When Manoj lived in the dorms, she would get Shah’s at least once every two weeks, but she doesn’t go as often now that she is living off-campus.
“The feeling of the hot and spicy food in my mouth when I go to their food-truck with my friends on a cold and windy day is irreplaceable,” Manoj said. “I’ve never had a cafe or restaurant I consistently run back to every time to not only eat or hang out, but to just put a smile on my face, and Shah’s is definitely that place for me now.”
Sethi described the first time he had Shah’s on the first day of school after he had heard that a lot of students were losing “their minds over this food.”
“I thought, ‘It’s just a food truck, how good could it be?’” Seth said. “The rest is history.”
Since he is not a picky eater, Sethi said he can get good-tasting food at decent prices, but his love for Shah’s has given him “the flavor of spirituality.” Sethi added that, given the fact that Shah’s sometimes gives extra chicken and rice for free later in the day, they “understand us students” like no one else. Mashriqi said there are multiple reasons why Shah’s stands out among the other on-campus food trucks.
“We are a local, family-run business,” Mashriqi said. “Our food is made fresh daily. We’ve been serving for over a decade now, and we feel that campus faculty and students are most familiar with us.”
Written by: Anjini Venugopal — firstname.lastname@example.org