Chicken & Rice (Plus Falafel) From King of Falafel

5 Oct

The King of Falafel himself. (Photo: Serious Eats NY)

Halal food and I have had a tumultuous relationship. I didn’t know of its awesomeness until I came to the city, and my first experience with it was from one of the street carts on 14th Street, right off of Union Square. The cart was probably in violation of ten zillion health department codes, but my innocent and borderline retarded self couldn’t have cared less. I tore through that chicken over rice plate (white sauce, no hot) like it was my job. Needless to say, I got food poisoning. Dark times, folks. Dark times.

Our brief and glorious union broke apart after that unfortunate night (and several days following). I didn’t try it again until I was told that I simply had to try the halal cart on 11th and 1st. Admittedly wary, I decided to risk it all and give it a go. Oh my goodness. Stuff is amazing. Writing this post makes me miss it so much that I might have to trek into Manhattan this weekend to get some. It’s 24 hours, so it’s really convenient if you’re stumbling through the dark streets of the East Village at 5AM and want some chicken and mayo goodness. They’ll hook you up. Promise.

But this post is about the one (the only?) King of Falafel. I wasn’t aware of the King’s existence until he won numerous Vendy Awards this year, but due to my love for chicken over rice (and the occasional falafel), I knew I had to check it out. And so there I was, taking not one, not two, but four trains to get to this damn cart in Astoria. The King (or Freddy, in less royal terms) is parked conveniently on 30th and Broadway, right off the N/Q trains at the Broadway stop. Apparently there’s always a line (as there was when I went), but despite there being six people in front of me I had my food in less than five minutes. Freddy is very efficient. I like that.

Sadly, I didn’t get to talk to Freddy as he was quite swamped, but his cohorts were very friendly and accommodating, and wished me well as I wandered aimlessly in an attempt to find a place to eat my loot. I settled on a lovely park two blocks up on 30th St & 30th Ave (meta-intersection?), where I proceeded to go to town on what would be some unusual chicken over rice.

Freddy's chicken over rice ($6). Lots of delicious food for a more than reasonable price.

I initially balked over the $6 asking price for the usual chicken over rice platter, but given the amount of food that you get (the usuals, plus a full salad with pickled veggies and a piece of falafel) and the quality it’s a bargain. Unlike many carts in the city whose “white sauce” is actually mayo-based, Freddy has the real yogurt-based deal, and its tangy kick ads a lot to an otherwise typical street meat dish. The chicken itself was also unusually spicy. I’m used to halal cart chicken packing a ton of flavor (as it should), but this chicken had my mouth tingling. It was spicy, yet not too spicy. Perfect, I’d say.

Now, the falafel. I’ve had some great falafel (Mamoun’s) and some not-so-great falafel (NYU Dining Hall). I also haven’t tried Taim, which many swear by as the best of the best. Freddy’s falafel, however, seemed amazing to me. I feel as if falafel tends to either be rock solid (NYU, I’m looking at you) or way too crumbly (I hear things), and this was neither. The outer shell was crisp yet not to the point in which I’d chip a tooth trying to bite through the damn thing, and the insides were soft yet firmly packed together. Freddy’s secret is apparently the shape: his are football-like as opposed to spherical. It supposedly helps keep things together.

I can’t see myself often attempting to justify a street cart as something worth traveling for, but Freddy’s food has that unique quality in which I’d say that it’s worth a trip into Queens. This guy’s a Vendy winner for a reason, and the hype is very much deserved. If you’re that pissed about having to go to Queens to get the good shit, make a day out of it: see a movie at the local movie theater and check out the neat-o Socrates Sculpture Park. It’ll be fun, and insanely delicious.

King of Falafel / 30th & Broadway, Astoria, NY / Cash Only / thekingfalafel.com

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