Perry, the founder of New York Street Food, brings you his latest review on New York City street food.
The recent Vendy Awards inspired us to revisit a former Vendy Cup winner this week, the King of Falafel & Shawarma. People who work or live in Astoria, and people who enjoy great street food, probably already know about Freddy Zeiadeia, the owner and chef.
Freddy started his first food cart in Astoria in 2002, won the Vendy Cup in 2010, added another cart in midtown Manhattan soon thereafter, and just opened his first sit-down restaurant this year, also in Astoria.
Working in midtown, we generally go to The KOF on the NW corner of 53rd St & Park Ave. Although Freddy is not there much these days, the food is exactly the same as when he cooked at the cart. There was about a 10 minute wait, but as they always do, one of the assistants handed out oval-shaped falafel samples to everyone waiting on line. We were also given another falafel in the Freddy Junior platter ($8), which doesn’t technically include falafel, but they just can’t stop spreading the falafel love!
The Freddy Junior platter consisted of kafta and chicken shawarma over rice with onions, lettuce, pickles, pickled cabbage, tahini and just a dash of hot sauce.
There was so much food in the Freddy Junior, we’re scared to see what the Freddy Senior looks like! (Just kidding. There’s no dish called the Freddy Senior.) The Junior was loaded with very large portions of the meat and veggies mentioned above. Standouts were the freshly-sliced chicken shawarma, the pickled cabbage and pickles, which added piquancy, and the creamy tahini sauce.
We should warn you that Freddy’s hot sauce packs a punch, so think twice before ordering your lunch spicy.
There are several hundred, if not a thousand halal carts in New York City, but The King of Falafel and Shawarma stands out above the rest. Between the large portions of high quality street food at a good price, the fast and friendly service, and the free, delicious falafel, you can’t go wrong. It’s easy to be a vegetarian with falafel and sauces this good, but the meat is excellent, too.