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The world’s best falafel

August 18th, 2009 · 13 Comments · Culture

It’s an ambitious title. And no, it’s not in Damascus. It’s in London.

This post is dedicated to Kano – the Syrian foodie in London. This post, and today’s culinary treat, would not have happened, if it wasn’t for this. Maysaloon has also talked-up this little London falafel hut. As has the Guardian.

Mr Falafel is in a bit of a Syrian ghetto in dirty west London. Shepherd’s Bush is where you’ll find the legendary Syrian restaurant Abu Zaad and a Syrian grocery. The area is home to one of the capital’s largest concentration of Syrians, but that’s really not saying much, because there are so few in London.

But I’m not here for any Damascene delicacies. Walk into the market (and make sure you get the right market – there are a few copycat falafel stalls nearby) and you are confronted by a ‘Palestinian’ falafel shop. Ahmad Yassine takes pride in his roots, unlike some Syrians who masquerade as Lebanese to get a few more customers. Or Jordanians pretending to be Syrian. London Arabs really are a mixed-up bunch.

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I have never tasted falafel in London. I have eaten food with the name ‘falafel’ but it tends to be chewy, re-fried or mixed with weird spices. I had given up hope of ever tasting falafel outside the Arab World. Mr Falafel is a revelation – and the reason I’m writing this post.

Eating Yassine’s creation is like being in Damascus. No, it actually might be better. The sandwich has just the right mixture of salad, tahini and hummus. And the falafels themselves are mouthwatering. Soft, delicate, fluffy – and most important of all – fresh.

The man is a clean freak – washing his hands with gel after every sandwich. And he has a camera focussed on the workbench, so you can watch your sandwich being prepared on a big screen!

IMG_0812I really did consider getting a second one after gobbling this down in 60 seconds. But now I’ve got a reason to go back tomorrow. The problem is – Ramadan’s starting this week, and Mr Falafel closes at 6pm every day. I told him to stay open longer, “shu bidi aamil” was his response.

It’s going to be a long month!

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Prices are reasonable, at £3 (250SP, US$5) for the small and £3.50 (300SP, US$5.75) for medium. And he is open until 6pm Monday to Saturday. It’s on the left at the entrance to New Shepherd’s Bush Market (not the old big market).

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 maysaloon // Aug 19, 2009 at 12.57 am

    yekhreb beytak you just made me hungry again…

  • 2 Qifa Nabki // Aug 19, 2009 at 3.11 am

    I think you forgot the word “second” in between “world’s” and “best”.

    The best is surely Falafel Sahyoun in Beirut. 😉

    And now the gloves come off… (!)

  • 3 Kano // Aug 19, 2009 at 10.22 am

    @Qifa Nabki
    I have tried loads of falafel in Beirut, may be not that specific one, but many places. Beirut falafel is not even in the same league as Falafel in Damascus (Mr Falafel taste exactly like the ones you eat in Damascus )

  • 4 Kano // Aug 19, 2009 at 10.25 am

    @syrianews
    it make me so sad that Al-Waha the best Middle Eastern restaurant in London call themselves Lebanese. The owner is Syrian, the menu is Syrian, the dishes are Syrian and still it is called Lebanese Restaurant.

  • 5 Ahmad Yassine // Aug 19, 2009 at 7.32 pm

    A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time and effort to write their lovely reviews about us … and I would certainly like to extend my gratitude to the ones who read them. I am honoured by what you have written about me and I shall do my very best to keep up the good work and hopefully enhance and buff the image of Palestinian/Levantine/Arab culture and food in the UK. I have never been to Falafel Sahyoun in Beirut but I frequently go to Lebanon so next time I am there I shall pay a visit and try to give my humble opinion, Palestinian and Syrian Falafels are very similar because the core ingredients are chickpeas and vegetables on the other hand our Lebanese brothers like to mix chickpeas and broad beans (Ful) plus vegetables in order to make their lovely falafels and that is why our Syrian customers are in favour of our recipe, I have to admit though that many of my Lebanese customers have admitted to me that Mr Falafel’s wraps are far superior to Sahyoun’s but that’s their opinion not mine 😉

    You are all welcome, ….

  • 6 cheb // Aug 20, 2009 at 5.54 pm

    paid this place a visit recently – was very nice :)

    Although the menu could try being a little more female and carb-free friendly and maybe doing a falafel salad?

  • 7 cheb // Aug 20, 2009 at 6.02 pm

    .. by the way, on a totally un-falafel topic, shepherds bush has a significant iraqi presence. One Syrian restaurant (or more like cafe!) doesn’t make it a Syrian populated area, sasa.

  • 8 Falafel stories – part 2 | Syria News Wire // Aug 20, 2009 at 6.12 pm

    […] RSS ← The world’s best falafel […]

  • 9 Qifa Nabki // Aug 20, 2009 at 9.14 pm

    I’m just teasing guys.

    Syrian cuisine is, obviously, the motherlode. I look forward to trying Mr. Falafel in London next time I’m in town.

  • 10 Sasa // Aug 20, 2009 at 9.19 pm

    Qifa, we seem to be arranging a trans-continental falafel party in London. You are very welcome! It’ll be like an international Lebanese-Syrian-British-American Arabists’ tweetup. With falafel!

  • 11 cheb // Aug 20, 2009 at 10.55 pm

    are you just anti-iraqi sasa?

  • 12 Ahmad Yassine // Aug 21, 2009 at 8.29 pm

    Dear Cheb

    I am glad you enjoyed your visit to MR FALAFEL. The menu had a variety of salads such as Taboleh and Fatoush (all freshly made of course) but were taken off two months ago due to lack of orders, I am afraid that people come to MR FALAFEL to enjoy the wraps and more of them … as for carb awareness some of my (FEMALE) customers do ask for falafel and Salad without the bread wrap! Simply three balls of falafel in a plastic container with all the fillings and salads that go in a wrap plus the sauces in a separate tub, we also offer a wholemeal bread wrap. :-)

  • 13 links for 2009-08-22 « Life through food // Aug 22, 2009 at 9.03 pm

    […] The world’s best falafel | Syria News Wire Eating Yassine’s creation is like being in Damascus. No, it actually might be better. The sandwich has just the right mixture of salad, tahini and hummus. And the falafels themselves are mouthwatering. Soft, delicate, fluffy – and most important of all – fresh. (tags: falafel) […]

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