Garlic N Lemons, your shawafel is endearing, particularly because I am the absolute worst at making decisions. Why would I ever pick between falafel and shawarma again when I could have both rolled up together between a thin layer of saj? Oh yeah, maybe because there’s better mediterranean food out there.
The first few times I had it, I was in love. I’d have up to four in a week. It was a phase. An addiction, if you may. I came in this afternoon with eager taste buds, since I hadn’t had it in about three weeks, and my expectations were not met. I realized that the first …embarrassing number of times, I was blinded by the sauce.
I get two sauces on my shawafel: tahini and spicy garlic. It’s a beautiful collision of mexican and mediterranean. Well, pseudo mexican, chipotle mayo isn’t even really mexican. And neither is this sauce. But it reminds me of one of my favorite elements of a good burrito, so my worlds collide for a minute. Anyway, tahini and falafel go together like kraft singles and white Wonder bread (don’t hate, you know you love the gooey goodness that is american fat-assery). As good as a falafel could ever be on its own, tahini adds that necessary pizazz. And man, is it good. Picture this: falafel and tahini (with whatever respective deliciousness that surrounds it – i’ll get to that) and then..what’s that…spicy beef…and..spiCY GARLIC SAUCE!? It’s perfect. What more could you ask for?
Well I’ll tell you what. The mesh of sauces pretty much hid the falafel. Since there was a lack of sauce, I was curious as to what the falafel ball tasted like so I tried a pinch. Falafel lovers, you’re in for a disappointment. It was dry and crummy – in both senses of the word. They mash it up when they put it on the saj. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to hide the flakiness of it, but they’re not fooling anyone (unless they put the right amount of sauce). And then I thought back to all those times I’d had the shawafel before and it all made sense. I saw falafel there, so naturally I was excited about it, but it didn’t contribute to the taste much overall. Just a filler, yet much too light to be as filling as any other falafel I’ve ever had. It just kind of falls apart without enough sauce. At least tahini sauce gives it the illusion that it can keep its shit together.
The spicy beef is the real filler here (I’ve also tried the spicy chicken; it’s fairly dry and doesn’t complement the rest of the ingredients as well as the spicy beef does, but it’s alright). I was a little alarmed first time I got it, seeing that it was red, but it was like biting into a good burger, and there’s a lot of it. Plus it’s the right amount of spicy. It’s spicy enough to give you a dash of flavor, but not so much that you need water after every bite. It’s definitely the focus of the shawafel and everything around it serves to complement it.
Now for “the other stuff.” I rarely find that lettuce contributes much to dishes like burritos or falafels, but it worked well here. It actually moistened things up a bit. It was fresh and a nice touch to the otherwise dry bases. Something I always note in a falafel or shawarma is pickled stuff, and this had a good variety of it. There were pickled onions, turnips, and, well, pickles. When I see these ingredients fall into place behind the glass, I anticipate this party of flavor, where the pickled things are the hookers and the sauces, cocaine (because you know how it goes: strippers and coke are inseparable). The party guests are fun and all, but I didn’t fall in love with any of them separately. Okay, I’m going to stop analogizing my shawafel to a party, but actually, as good as all the pickled things were, they all kind of overlapped. It tasted good, but it had a sort of illusion of having variety, while all it was is pickled.
The sauce is what brings me back for more. (Also, the discount making it $3.85 that they had during the first week of June). I’m sorry to say that without the sauce, I’m just not feeling the shawafel all that much. With the right amount of sauce, however, your tastebuds are in for a treat.