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.
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!
I 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!
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).