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Falafel Express ~ Tarzana

9:59 AM PST on February 19, 2007

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Falafel Express ~ 5577 Reseda Blvd. Tarzana , CA 91356 ~ 818-345-5660 (TACO Guide)

I used to survive off of falafel when I lived in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. First Mamoun's and later dabbling at Sam's, then back to Mamoun's, especially when makdous was in season. These falafel balls of mashed, fried chickpea batter with tahini sauce and crisp salad in pita pockets are cheap, delicious, and go off into the late night where first-gen Middle Eastern descended Americans bump bass on Arabic-skewed techno, a scene that is definitely taco material despite its Atlantic origins.

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I hadn't fucked with falafel on my beloved west coast homeland since coming back a few years ago. Maybe I've been to Pita Hut or whatever it's called on LaBrea, but I like, totally forget dudes. So I was pretty stoked on what these stone-cold characters were serving here in Tarzana, a short roll off the 101. Its small diner space resembled a religious experience, packed with observers of the Jewish faith. In fact, the food at the creatively named Falafel Express is Glatt Kosher, which means its taken a trip to the Exorcist (In this case Rabbi Bukspan) for a good purging of its sinful nature.

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You know this here poster that sort of looks like the severed head of that Gogol Bordello singer, if he was a little more aggro and fatter and deader? I was sitting next to that guy, the same exact head sitting on a average-built, though slightly physically challenged body. The kid was really smart, he was talking all about Ford-era economics or something, and his sister was a totally bangin' blonde with big breasts who could not have cared less, I think she was missing Sweet Sixteen on MTV and was bummed. It might have been my imagination, but we kind of exchanged looks and the whole entire time I was eating my falafel, I saw this severed head dude in my periphery kind of looking at me like he could read my evil intentions in his girl or sister or whoever she was.

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The falafel takes a hot minute or minute or two, like all good things, it needs its time. The structure of the joint has an early nose on the East Coast competition with a pita that actually stands its ground. Dearest Mamoun, Allah bless you and the whole crew, but sometimes your pita comes apart all over someone's stoop and its a mess for everyone involved. The salad here is really fresh, with a little herby twist, juicy chopped tomatoes, dark green ruffiage, and crunchy diced cucumber layered thick on top of the joint, which means it will be a cooling munchie come summer.

The falafel itself is very clean, not sloppy, which could be a plus or minus. It certainly is very flavorful and tastes great, but like a good taco or burger shouldn't be afraid of a little dirt on its hands. Each falafel bite maintains a great crunch which reveals a simple but zesty blast of hot sesame mash and spices. Its dark on the outside, but not at all overcooked as its insides are golden green and earthy. Overall, an excellent, conveniently solid bite with a slathering of tasty tahini and creamy hummus mixed onto the top and sides.

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If I'd been hungrier or richer, I might have fucked with some of the other things on the menu, as their falafel seems a good testament to the cleanliness and care that goes into their dishes. Bowls full of avocado dip and hummus, alongside plates of olive and carrot salads, kabobs, shawarma, latkes, baklava, and something called Sambusak, will hopefully bring me back to see what's up. I once heard about some place in new York where you'd ask for Turkish Coffee and they'd make it with hash, so naturally, hoping against hope, I ordered it at Turkish Express, getting nothing more than a very expensive thimble of Popeye-strong espresso that got me spazzing hard.

Making an exit, the homie next to me and I exchanged pleasantries on our way out the door, and his sister didn't seem to be feeling it anyway, proving again that first impressions don't stick, and that I am a paranoid android with an unhealthy sexual fixation. Meanwhile, score one for West Coast falafels with Falafel Express holding it down for the San Fernando Valley!!!!

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