Sammy Faragh, 35-year old Israeli, takes falafel seriously and wants to be NJ’s (if not the world’s) king of falafel. While such a title may not exist, his restaurant King Falafel in Elmwood Park aims to treat visitors royally. The spot, a stone’s throw from PizzaTown on Route 46, offers gently priced authentic fare, all homemade on the premises. I met Faragh at his first restaurant in Edgewater, called Haifa Cafe & Grill. He’s come quite a ways since closing the original tiny storefront located on a side street, and opening up this larger, certainly brighter spot. With a new partner Mike Elbib, a 20-year restaurateur, at his side and an additional staffer, Faragh’s prospects look better.
Here’s what I liked on my recent visit:
Fabulous pickled turnip, imported cracked green olives, preserved lemon slices, carrot and veggies served as appetite whetters.
Light, yet intensely flavored babaganuj and smooth humus.
Crazy good hot sauce made from jalapeno peppers and plenty of garlic. Slather it on pita before piling on falafel or meats, Faragh advises.
House salads start at $4.99. The Arabic or Shepherd salad is lemony and satisfying. Add grilled chicken or shish for another $3.99.
Halal meats only are served. Portions can be a bit modest. We devoured a King Kabab Combo for two ($24.99) with Kofta, seasoned ground beef and lamb, lamb, chicken and shawarma. The platters are served with two sides. Hand-cut fries are an option.
Faragh makes the restaurant’s shwarma from meat he slices, seasons, stacks and rotisseries. Chicken (dark meat) is served Monday through Friday and a combination of beef and lamb are served on weekends. The restaurant also offers whole lamb stuffed with rice and almonds to feed up to 20 people for $450 with multiple sides and delivery included. Faragh’s been attracting Israeli’s who yearn for the real deal in terms of Israeli specialties, like levivot, the latka alternative with minced vegetables and sometimes chicken for Hanukkah.
Traditional Israeli appetizers, including Foul Medamas, a spread made with fava beans, lemon, garlic and olive oil, all scored big. The light, satisfying falafel were deliciously crispy and flavorful. Multiple pies are also available, starting at $1.99, each made to order. Consider the zaatar, made with thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and olive oil for $2.99.
Over a dozen sandwiches starting at $3.99 tempt, ranging from fried cauliflower with tahini sauce to falafel ($4.99), shawerma (5.99) and mayanek ($5.99) which includes sauteed Middle Eastern style sausage with lemon juice. Desserts are also made in-house and include rice pudding ($3.99) and other specialties like namoura/harissa, mohalabia cake and baklava.
Free delivery within 3 miles is offered. The restaurant is open 7 days/week as follows:
71 West Route 46
Elmwood Park, NJ