Falafel is an easy, accessible and not-too-bad for you takeaway and comfort food option for plant-based citizens in many cities around Asia, the Pacific and the US. Wether you are strolling through Singapores Arab Quarter, shopping in Tokyo’s Omotesando or thrifting on Wellingtons Cuba Street, you know that when hunger strikes, a decent falafel is not too far away.
It is somewhat surprising then that this global Middle Eastern delicacy of golden fried chickpea balls have not made more of an impact into Taipeis food scene. For a long time choice was limited to a handful of pita bars, and while none of them were terrible (they would hit the spot if you were really craving falafel), none of them were outstanding either.
That is until Falafel King opened in the Shida night market just over a year ago and single handedly (literally – the shop was started by one Israeli expat) brought his authentic Israeli version of his falafel pitas and lunch boxes to Taiwans capital.
Now having outgrown the night market stand Falafel King have now moved into a proper albeit tiny shop, with enough seating for around 6 people. You will find Falafel King a short walk from the Taipower MRT station, the shops sign – a falafel wearing a crown – is hard to miss. It’s not fine dining, but nor should it be, this is international street food at its best, with a few little stools and tables where you can sit and watch the torrential rain fall from the awning while you demolish a satisfying warm falafel pita sandwich.
The first thing you notice when you get your hands around the paper bag that’s holding your sandwich is the weight and girth of the object inside. Falafel King do not go light on the fillings, and that’s a refreshing trait in a city where food sizes generally seem to be trending smaller or prices are going up (at least for plant-based food). Looking at the open end of the pita you see a sandwich that is bursting at the seams full with salads, hummus and of course falafel and generous lathering of tahini and Falafel Kings special mango curry sauce. There is no glamorous way to tackle such a beast – you are going to get very messy, and that is all part of the charm.
The falafel balls themselves are all made on the spot, so sometimes during busy periods there can be a bit of a wait, but the result is worth it – a crispy and fluffy falafel up there with some of the best I’ve had. Despite being freshly fried, these falafel do not fall into the trap of being too oily, or seeping oil into the sandwich – truly a masterstroke of falafel engineering! In this writers opinion, Falafel King currently offers the best falafel in Taipei.
Falafel King also offer a refreshing and tangy house-made lemonade and a selection of beers to wash down your large pita sandwich. There is also a soy-based pudding topped with your choice of syrup (try the rose, seriously) and pistachios – it doesn’t look quite as pretty as the falafel sandwich, but it is absolutely divine.
In addition, Falafel Kings prices are reasonable, and even a large sandwich will set you back just $5 USD.
Falafel Kings hours can change from time to time, so be sure to check their Facebook Page before heading along.