Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mamoun's Falafel

The last time I was down in New York City, my sister and I took a jaunt to Mamoun’s Falafel in the East Village. She claimed it was the best and yet the cheapest falafel around, so I knew I had to try it out. She was right—it was amazing.

For $2.50 I got a falafel sandwich with falafel, tomato, lettuce, and tahini sauce all wrapped up in a little pita pocket. The falafel was still warm and rather than being placed in the pita as fully formed spheres of fried chickpeas, it was chopped up into little pieces with just the right amount of crunch paralleled with perfect softness. The veggies accompanying the falafel were cool, crisp, and refreshing, and the tahini was delightful.

I also tried some of their hot sauce, which Mamoun’s Web site claims will make anything taste magical. Now, just to warn you, their hot sauce is actually hot unlike some places that claim to have “hot” sauce when it’s actually tamer than a stroll through the park. I have a pretty high tolerance for heat and spice thanks to living one summer in the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Provence, China, where hot numbing peppers and other intense spices abound in the cuisine. But Mamoun’s sauce blew me out of the water. My sister warned me it was very hot and said just to use a little. Knowing my high tolerance I put on what I thought was just a little. The flavors were incredible in the sauce, but when I took a big bite of a particularly drenched section of the falafel it was just too much. My eyes started watering and my nose running and the sauce burned the outside of my mouth where it had smeared. Luckily I had a cool beverage, but truth be told I had to avoid that section of the falafel for the rest of the meal. My advice is to take a bit of the sauce and just dip the falafel pita into it so that if it’s too hot for you, at least you’ve salvaged the rest of your sandwich. It was, however, quite magical.

Despite my overheated incident, the falafel at Mamoun’s was truly the best I’ve had. It’s difficult now to fork over seven or eight bucks for an inferior falafel, but since the East Village is a bit of hike for me right now, it looks like I’ll be waiting a while for more fabulous falafel. If you find yourself in the area, definitely take a walk over to Mamoun’s Falafel for some of the best, and cheapest, falafel out there.

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