Raving Review: Falafelle - freshest, made-on-demand falafels
Once in awhile you meet someone who inspires you not because of their stellar achievement but because of how down-to-earth, sincere, humble and genuine they are. One such person is Khaled, who owns and runs a falafel shop in Belmont, California.
Having moved to California from Lebanon over 10 years ago, Khaled missed the fresh flavor of his home country. He went high and low in search of the best falafels in town and noticed a disappointing observation. In most restaurants, falafels are pre-prepared, deep-fried and frozen; when orders are made, the falafels are taken out of the freezer and re-fried before being served. No, Khaled insisted, falafels should never be frozen. They should always be made on the spot, fried on demand and served fresh.
Fueled by a desire to revive the authentic virtue of his home country cuisine, Khaled took it upon himself to set up shop to serve the freshest vegan falafels. Despite a substantial start-up capital required to secure a little shop in the center of a prominent Silicon Valley neighborhood, Khaled set to work, determined to introduce Americans to falafels-done-right.
I first walked into Falafelle (which I suppose means “little falafel shop” because Falafel + Ville = Falafelle) conveniently located at the intersection of Ralston Ave and Sixth Ave in downtown Belmont sometime in April 2016. I’ve always had an affinity for Middle Eastern Mediterranean food so it was no surprise Falafelle caught my eyes. Since opening its doors in February 2016, word of this little shop has spread around the neighborhood.
Long lines would form outside the shop as patrons wait patiently to order their favorite vegan falafels. No one seemed to mind the wait - the line moves pretty fast despite it being just Khaled himself taking the order, scooping the ingredients and serving each customer. Khaled’s shop assistant would prepare and fry the falafels and mend the cashier box. On Saturdays, Khaled’s lovely wife Rawan would assist him in the shop.
Khaled’s vision is slowly but surely coming to pass and it’s easy to see why - this man is full of heart. He has a passion for authenticity. He genuinely cares for the food he prepares and the customers he serves. He remembers almost every face and person who walks into his shop. Not only does he greet them by name, he remembers their jobs, interests and other details of their lives you wouldn’t expect a shop owner to remember. He truly cares. Even when he’s burdened by troubles of his own (as is no surprise for most restaurant owners), Khaled maintains a cheerful disposition.
I kid you not - when I’m downcast, I’ll pop in to Khaled’s shop for a dose of friendly greeting, warm smile and fresh falafels. That always brighten my day.
Simple menu, reasonable price, fresh ingredients, great value, excellent customer service - it’s no wonder Khaled is whipping up a stir in the little community of Belmont and mind you, word is fast spreading outside Belmont as I’ve noticed the lines getting longer and Khaled has expanded his business hours to cater to the increasing demand for his fresh, made-with-heart-and-love falafels.
Here’s a link to Falafelle on Yelp. And here’s the shop address: 1035 Ralston Ave, Belmont, CA 94002.