My search for the best falafel in New York continues….
Unless you’re from a Middle Eastern country, you shouldn’t pronounce the word for chickpea puree as “hoomoos” with the long “oo” sound. In this country, we say “hummus.”
But the Israeli-Yemeni café, Hoomoos Asli, on the border of Soho and Nolita gives you permission to pronounce it correctly. Either that or they want to teach us stupid Americans the right way to say it.
There’s not much disagreement over the pronounciation of chickpea in its fried form, so I wasn’t as concerned when I ordered a falafel sandwich. I was a bit confused, however, as to whether there is table service offered here. The cashier seemed to push me to take a seat. But the counter was inviting and I’m not accustomed to table service at falafel joints.
I did eventually sit down in the makeshift dining room and allowed her to bring me my food. I even left a tip like a good diner should – thank you very much!
A bold sign outside advertises this as the best $5 falafel in the city. (I wonder how it stacks up to $3 falafels?) So $5 is what I paid, but I noticed the menu also advertises a sandwich for double the price. That one is served on a special (and expensive) Yemenite bread called mellawach. On another day, I’ll have to taste this magical bread to see if it warrants doubling the price of my lunch.
But for $5, I got a pretty decent sandwich. Served wide open, this bread was toasted and browned. The falafel were hidden under a generous helping of red and white sauces. This red hot sauce was unusual because it was similar to a stewed tomato sauce with a deceptive creeping heat. It had more rich texture with a smoky, spicy finish.
Four falafel balls were at the very bottom of the sandwich, which means most of the sauce and vegetables didn’t make their way down there. Fortunately, some much needed hoomoos (look at my fancy pronounciation) was spread along the bottom of the pita.
The falafel were crunchy and immediately popped with spicy za’atar flavors. But sadly, those bold flavors quickly disappeared as I got further into a dry and bland interior. These weren’t bad, but I have no doubt there is a better $5 falafel out there. And perhaps a better $3 and $4 one too.
Hoomoos Asli is worth a taste if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a cheap, filling meal. I didn’t love the actual falafel, but the $5 experience was enhanced by the special hot sauce, the toasted bread, and of course, the hummus. I mean, hoomoos.
Does Hoomoos Asli have the best falafel in NY? 6 out of 10 since the falafel itself had some decent flavors, but the dry and dense interior was a disappointment and the balls got lost at the bottom of the sandwich.
|100 Kenmare Street (at Lafayette Street),