Do you ever experience something so good you need to write a post about it? After three or four visits to Falafel King, I definitely have this urge now!
First, a disclaimer. Falafel King is not a “restaurant.” It’s a narrow storefront in the heart of the Shida night market (at least for now—more on this below). When visiting with an elderly friend for lunch, the owner kindly pulled out two stools for us to sit on. But this is basically a take-out spot where you can stand and eat in the alley or carry your purchase to eat elsewhere, perhaps at one of the nearby parks.
Now for the good stuff. The food here is amazing. I’ve tried the falafel sandwich and another concoction with grilled eggplant, hummus, and egg—both are superb, with their balance of vegetables and delectable sauces. The regular size for one of these wonderful treats is NT$85. For NT$40, you can add a pudding—the date version I tried was a tasty (and not overly sweet) way to end a satisfying lunch.
One of the pleasure of eating here is watching the owner (who I understand is from Israel) assemble the food. Let’s just say if the Chinese and Taiwanese food in this part of Taipei City were prepared with this level of thought and care, I would be delighted (unfortunately far too much of it is not). With fresh ingredients and bright flavours, this place would be an immediate favorite if it were, say, in Toronto or San Francisco. The fact that it’s up-and running in Taipei City is a blessing, and a sign of how the international food scene here is changing, in many ways for the better.
I mentioned above that Falafel King is currently located in the Shida night market area. It’s between Longqian Street and Shida Road on the alley that is immediately next to the Longqian 7-11 (address: No. 12, Lane 59, Shida Road; closest MRT Station: Taipower Building Station on the Green Line).
Alas, it won’t be there for long. I think I heard the owner mention January 20 as a possible closing date due to some unspecified issues with the landlord. I heard that Falafel King will return in early 2019 (likely in February some time) at a new location not far from El Sabroso on Tingzhou Road. With the number of international students living in and passing through NTU’s Shuiyuan dorms, this may turn out to be a good move if the shop can survive the quieter summer months.
In the meantime, Falafel King has given me an excellent reason to return to the Shida night market area—a neighborhood that, as many forumosans know, has undergone drastic changes over the years, and which I had almost given up on. For food this good, it’s worth going back.