January 01, 2012

Battle of the Falafels: L'As du Fallafel v. King Falafel Palace

When in Paris, you eat... falafels??

It seemed a bit odd to me too, but when I received the same recommendation (L'As du Fallafel) from multiple people, including the NYT and the famous Rick Steves and David Lebovitz (among others), I knew that hitting up Rue des Rosiers was something I needed to do.

Rue des Rosiers is indeed, just a "rue" so it took some trekking around, walking in circles, and the help of a kind-hearted French woman (they exist!) to get us to our final destination.  Unfortunately, due to some poor planning on my part, my hungry and tired friends and I arrived to a closed shop.  (Note: L'As du Fallafel is closed all day on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Shabbat).  Defeated, we looked down the narrow road for another option.  My friends found King Falafel Palace, a short stone's throw away, but my heart had been set on LDF.  Alas, when a grumbling stomach beckons, you ought to answer.

King Falafel Palace

Mixte Pita - 7 euros
I opted for the Mixte Pita which included thinly-sliced shwarma, crispy falafel, grilled eggplant, onion and red cabbage salad, and a roasted pepper salad topping.  Naturally, I asked for an ample serving of the tahini "white sauce" often served with halal food and squirted a generous amount of red sauce (Go big or go home, son).  We took our yummies to a nearby park down the street and around the corner.  And on a bench, under the hot sun, we noshed.

The verdict?  It was good.  The pita was soft, the meats were tasty, the falafel was crispy, the eggplant, not too salty.  The sauces were good too, but because the well-stuffed pita is wrapped in a paper wrapper and a single small sheet of aluminum foil, it got messy - fast.  Overall rating: 3/5.


Because I was determined not to leave Paris without having tasted L'As du Fallafel, I made my travel buddies to trek out to Rue du Rosiers a second time the following day. (I'm terrible... terribly determined).  The lengthy line indicated that they were open. (Determination pays off!)  Workers were walking up and down the road to lure potential customers and jot down their orders before some other falafel place could catch their attention - competition is thick. Excitement fills the air.  My heartbeat quickens.  Yes, this is the experience I've anticipated.   Despite waiting in line for a good 10 minutes, we were finally ready to collect our goods.  And as most can agree, it's all worth the wait.

The ingredients are not different from those of King Falafel Palace, yet the pita tasted far better.  Was this just my mind playing tricks on me?  Some strange twist to self-fulfilling prophecy?  Nay.  The pita is thicker, fresher, and better equipped to hold its contents more securely.  The eggplant is marinated well, but less salty.  And while this may seem like a minor element, the extra thick paper covering helped catch all the oils and fats (yummm).

Fallafel Special - 7.50 euros
We returned to the park to eat our second falafel, two days in a row, but this time, the park was closed.  Still, I savored every single bite and left my mark behind.

Paris, you are wonderful... you and your falafels.

À bientôt, j'espère!