Brace for some serious falafel, Mile End: a counter by the name of Falafel Yoni is setting up on St-Viateur this spring, aiming to do no-nonsense, high-quality Israeli-style sandwiches with the chickpea balls.
It comes from the duo of Daniel Maislin, a longtime chef with experience most recently at St-Henri’s Satay Brothers, and Yoni Amir, who has a little less restaurant experience, but with a food service inclination running in the family, as his sister Sefi is a co-owner at nearby hits Lawrence and Larrys.
“We decided to take it upon ourselves to show Montreal what they’re missing in terms of really traditional authentic falafel that you get in Tel Aviv,” Amir says. He notes that while a small number of local restaurants do respectable falafel (his picks: Falafel St-Jacques in Ville-St-Pierre, and Freiha in Laval), they are spread out, and not available in many inner neighbourhoods where he spends time.
“There are all these shitty fast food restaurants that don’t fry their falafel on the spot, and it’s totally an afterthought to what they are selling more of, like their shawarma and shish taouk…in Israel to be served a falafel ball that hasn’t been fresh fried is completely blasphemy.”
While falafel is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern street food, the exact product varies from country to country (either the balls themselves or the accompaniments or fillings in a sandwich) — while Egyptian falafel may include fava beans, the Israeli style uses only chickpeas, and Amir says that’s the approach he has opted for. Amir is Israeli-born, and says he has a strong personal connection between falafel and his home country.
Along with the chickpea patties will be hummus, a tabouli-adjacent salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion, and parsley, cabbage pickled in lemon, tahini sauce, brine-pickled cucumbers, and z’hug, a Yemeni hot sauce that goes heavy on cilantro and spices.
The 12-seat counter space (which takes over the former Café Sunrise, next to pub Bishop and Bagg) will only offer a tiny menu of falafel sandwiches in half or full portions and a salad (like a “deconstructed” version of the sandwich), and a hummus plate.
One other characteristically Israeli sandwich, sabich, will join that line up: it features deep-fried eggplant, a hard-boiled egg, and amba sauce, an Iraqi creation that’s comparable to mango chutney. Every element of the menu except pitas will be made on site.
- Falafel Yoni [Instagram]