There's been a food truck serving country-style chicken sandwiches and tenders in the city for a decade now. A cult classic in the Scarborough community with lineups stretching alongside the industrial plaza parking lot it occupies. Despite being a local favourite, it wasn't well known throughout the city. That all changed when they finished in First Place at the Fried Chicken Festival and brought that attention to the masses.
Chef Aleem Syed is the mastermind behind this popular food truck in the city. He is an award-winning chef who had his own show on AMI TV. Chef Syed was left paralyzed from an accident years ago, so he decided to sell his car and bought a food truck -- he hasn't looked back since.
Chef Aleem Syed pictured in front of his food truck, The Holy Grill.
Situated in the parking lot of an industrial plaza of Scarborough, The Holy Grill remains relatively hidden. Despite being out of sight, they most definitely are not out of mind. Some patrons flock to the spot through word of mouth, with lineups wrapping around the building. When the weather is tolerable, communal picnic tables are set up around the truck for those who can’t wait to sink their teeth into chef Syed's chicken.
Chef Syed has mastered his take on halal fried chicken, with slight adjustments over the years to help keep himself current as well as to cater to the community he serves. They specialize in fried chicken sandwiches and tenders, with a small assortment of sides to accompany them.
Their chicken sandwich is three tenders topped with pickles, sauce and American cheese on a brioche bun. The tenders are perfectly crisp, while their "comeback sauce" adds a tangy kick to the overall sandwich. Sweet pickles are a must for any Nashville sandwich and they add the perfect briny sweetness. The slice of cheese is unique to many Nashville chicken sandwiches you'll find in the city and replicates a common trend seen on the states' west coast. The brioche bun is the perfect vessel to hold everything together and adds a buttery finish to each bite.
The chicken tenders are buttermilk fried tenders that are exceptionally crunchy while remaining juicy on the inside. They are the same tenders used for the sandwich, but if you’re looking to skip out on the carbs, these make for a fantastic meal. They come in various spice levels ranging from mild to T.O.’s Hottest, which renders the chicken tender an intimidating, dark red. Not for those whose spice tolerance is feeble at best.
Alongside the chicken, you can order some crinkle-cut fries, mac and cheese, and some slaw as well. The menu has changed periodically through the years, but the quality remains unwavering.
With the boom of the Nashville hot chicken scene in Toronto, Syed continues to add innovation to the dish. And the patrons continue to come out in waves to try it out. "I believe that if you take care of the community, they will take care of you," says Syed. Located on 128 Shorting Rd during the weekends, feel free to swing by and say hello to chef Syed or order through Uber Eats.