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Waikiki Kosher Eats: Da Falafel King

Continuing the quest in seeking out the best in regional Middle Eastern cuisine Hawaii has to offer, today, or LATE tonight for that matter, let’s stop by Da Falafel King!

As far as I understand, Da Falafel King is currently the ONLY game in Honolulu town if you’re seeking 100% certified KOSHER prepared dishes according to Jewish law. The only other establishment that had that bragging right was the former Yudi’s Deli in Manoa Valley, although proprietor and chef Yudi Weinbaum has since closed up shop and focuses now on catering for private functions.

Well, far from private, Da Falafel King is located SMACK in the middle of a concrete SOCIAL JUNGLE known as the infamous Waikiki Trade Center on Kuhio Avenue.  Where here, it becomes sometimes more like a SAVAGE JUNGLE when “the keepers” from neighboring Zanzabar Nightclub, Black Diamond Nightclub and The Shack Waikiki let loose their “wild animals” in the wee hours of late night to early morning. lol

Which is actually an interesting demographic for a business like this, especially when it gets into those late night to early morning hours. As, while the PACKED crowd around here obviously includes plenty of tourists, there’s also lots of local patrons.

Whom the latter of, for the most part, aren’t exposed to Middle Eastern cuisine (in comparison to asian), let along it being “kosher”.  “Ko’shah? What stay ‘dat?” lol And GOD FORBID, nightclubs are FAR from being “kosher”. lol  So think of Da Falafel King as sort of a Savior if you will, that made all the sins you’ve committed just minutes or hours earlier, all be forgiven by a wonderful, Heaven-sent meal. Sweet!

Without further ado, Da’ King’s Menu…

“Draw pick-chah”…

Samoa…

With that, now let’s check out some of the stuff they’ve been feeding the “masses” of hungry vampires, starting with their Kosher Hot Dog, this one being FULLY LOADED with toppings…

Which this Kaneohe-based Marine (Semper Fi!) DEVOURED in seconds!…

Yet another take on their kosher dog…

I tried one myself…

The verdict? Other than it being kosher, it’s pretty much your “basic”  all-American hot dog. Speaking of which,  Da Falafel King also has fries…

Which I must say, their fries are mighty darned EXCELLENT both in thick style of cut, seasoning and “GBD” ‘n tender, made-to-order doneness…

On a side note, I always wanted one of these hot dog “wiener roller cooker thing-a-ma-jings” (which I’ve seen a made-for-home kitchen model)…

I find this type of cooker/warmer gives hot dogs a nicely-toasted, sorta’ smokey-tasting casing, and an overall, evenly-cooked and juicy “restaurant quality” flavor. My normal home method of cooking hot dogs is by boiling them in 100% beer, which is my “German way”. Winnahz laddat, too!

Next up, we have Da Falafel King’s “Pita Chips”…

No, this isn’t the same “Pita Chips” you find at your local Costco, which I’m not knockin’, but these are MUCH MORE SPECIAL than that! These here are made with cut pieces of FRESH Pita Bread that are “secretly seasoned” and then deep-fried to GBD, fluffy ‘n glutenous inside, cripsy outside PER-FEC-TION!

Of course served with Hummus for dippin’…

Da Falafel King’s fresh-cooked, deep-fried Pita Chip, up close ‘n personal…

Flip it…

FANTASTIC glutenous ‘n airy texture inside, encased by a tasty, nicely-seasoned, golden’ crispy crust…

Another patron’s Pita Chips order, where they added some sort of red dipping sauce alongside the Hummus…

Summing it up, EASY 5 SPAM MUSUBI for Da’ King’s Pita Chips with Hummus dip, and and a MUST ORDER along with your sandwich when you visit “Da King”.

Next up we have the main attraction at Da Falafel King, their Pita “pocket” sandwiches, which you can choose Filafel (ground beans), Baba Ghanoush (mashed eggplant), Shawarma (grilled chicken and lamb), Kabab (grilled beef and lamb) or Snitchel (breaded chicken breast). Along with that, they come filled with a variety of fresh and pickled vegetables and sauces. Such as these fine examples fellow patrons were more than happy to share with The Tasty Island camera…

Notice you can add fries IN your pita pocket. Personally, not the way I’d do it, but hey, whatever floats your Shawarma! lol

Falafel and Shawarma…

Holding them, to provide a scale of reference in how big these really are…

Zoom in on the Shawarma…

Side view of the Pita…

Falafel…

I have NO idea what this one is, but it looks delicious!…

Baba Ghanoush, also sportin’ some fries…

Snitchel, also sportin’ fries…

Here’s some of the veggies they have on display in the refrigerated clear case fronting their “cart”…

Kabobs in the raw…

Before I get to the Falafel and Snitchel/Baba Ghanoush combo that I took to go on two separate occasions, let me finish our visit here at Da Falafel King’s Waikiki “cart” by virtually introducing you to the wonderful, super friendly staff, starting with this group photo including owner Anir Yosef (the gentleman on the far right)…

GREAT folks here at Da Falafel King. I don’t know how they maintain such a positive, happy-spirited disposition with all the “crazy animals” that roam around here in the late hours of the night, but they do it! Awesome.

OK, now let’s check out what I took home, starting with my specially-prepared Snitchel and Baba Ghanoush combo (That sounds kinda’ funky, huh? Thankfully “Snitchel” and/or “Baba Ghanoush” wasn’t something I dragged home from a nearby club. LOL!)…

Da Falafel King’s Snitchel/Baba Ghanoush combo (specially prepared by Da Falafel King staff for yours truly), cut in half for the reveal…

It’s really tough to make out what exactly is in there (as I didn’t take notes, sorry). Looks healthy though!

You can see the Snitchel towards the far right of the cut section above. There’s also an abundance of pickles, along with boiled eggs and a medley of other veggies, along with what looks like whole slices of eggplant…

One more section…

So how is it? Well, to be honest, just like the AWESOME Middle Eastern spread we recently enjoyed as reviewed in the previous post at It’s Good & Healthy Cafe, here too, there’s just so much going on, that it’s difficult to pinpoint and describe in words exactly what I’m tasting. All I can say really is it’s absolutely, most incredibly DEEEEEEEEEE-LISH-OUS! Seriously delicious. Like 5 SPAM Musubi, broke da’ mout onolicious, delicious.

Saving the final and top honor for “Da King”, we have Da Falafel King’s Falafel…

Don’t you just wanna’ just, just, just…. BITE RIGHT INTO THAT?…

Notice the interior of Da Falafel King’s Falafel is on the green side in color, as compared to It’s Good & Healthy Cafe’s Falafel, which was brown.

Now let’s REALLY do (eat) this…

Here you see there’s two made-to-order Falafel that each measure about the size of a golf ball in volume. Again, surrounding that are a medley of fresh ‘n pickled veggies and sauce. And again, this is absolutely 5-SPAM FA-LA-FEL’ISCIOUS!!!!

If you’ve never tried Falafel before (because I know lots of you local folks haven’t), it’s basically ground/processed Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and/or Fava Beans  mixed with a variety of herbs and seasonings,  then formed into a ball and then deep-fried. In the case here at Da Falafel King, they use only Garbanzo Beans to make their Falafel, along with of course a few other “secret ingrediments”.

Da Falafel King’s Falafel is typically “meal-ee” (gritty) in texture, with a lightly spiced and rather neutral flavor profile. To best describe Falafel, it’s really what a “Boca Burger” SHOULD taste like. Speaking of which, not surprisingly, “Falafel Burgers” do indeed exist!

Summing it up, whether your diet and/or religious practice requires your food be kosher, or your diet simply requires absolutely ONOLICIOUS food (that be me), head on over to “Waiks” and stop by DA FALAFEL KING. Highly recommended!

Da Falafel King
2255 Kuhio Avenue (on the ground floor entrance of the Waikiki Trade Center)
Honolulu, Hawaii  96815

Tel. (808) 223-7899
Da Falafel King on Facebook

Business hours:
Sunday-Tuesday: 10am to 1am
Wednesday-Saturday: 10am to 4am

*Note: that’s AM that they both open and close!

Da King’s Menu (current as of 2/11):

The Tasty Island rating:

(5) Superb. Worthy of repeat visits or purchases. (Broke Da’ Mout’!)

Related links:
Da Falafel King – Yep user reviews

13 thoughts on “Waikiki Kosher Eats: Da Falafel King

  • April 10, 2011 at 7:28 am
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    Pomai, sometime I have some leftover falafel batter and shape into burger size and have for work as falafel burger with tomato cucumber and lettuse and tahini sauce on a bun.

    Reply
  • April 10, 2011 at 8:58 am
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    Amy, you sure do lots of cooking. Knowing me (yeah, scary), I’d probably “doctor” a Falafel WAY more than it deserves, adding all kinds of whacky stuffs, like mushrooms and cheese in the center. I’d basically turn a kosher Falafel into one that completely breaks all the rules. lol

    I’m now thinking “Falafel Hash”, where I’d add shredded corned beef and potatoes in the ground chickpeas mixture to a ratio of about 3:1 in favor of the Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans). Fry ’em up, and serve it with some sunnyside-up eggs. Preferably all kosher ingredients, of course. How you figgah? Would work or what?

    Reply
  • April 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm
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    Pomai, your falafel sound like a Dude Falafel in what you got and like in it. I was making Kalua pork and shred it and put it aside you know what happen? Erica did something when I was away doing something else. She added bar b q sauce to the kalua pork and now I got bar b q pulled pork shocking!

    Now I have to head to store and get kaiser roll and turn the cabbage into cole slaw and change the menu. Next time carnita pork for Mexican meal.

    Reply
  • April 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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    As much as I hate to travel within Tourist-Town, I guess I have to now… lost my falafel (and Sabich) fix several years ago when that hole-in-the-wall place that replaced Kevin’s Two Boots closed…

    Reply
  • April 10, 2011 at 5:40 pm
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    Thank you so much for discovering this place. Like Ryan, I think I’ll have to brave my way into Waikiki, since I miss the falafel from my college years in LA. I also get cravings for the turkish Kebaps we ate while living in Germany, and these look like they just might be the ticket. I don’t really get the “Snitchel” though — a sandwich for tattletales? I’m a german purist when it comes to my Schnitzel!

    Reply
  • April 11, 2011 at 11:10 am
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    Never had you pegged as a night owl. Food looks great and I bet it tasted fantastic after a few drinks.

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  • April 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm
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    My kids love this place. And enjoyed your review.

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  • April 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm
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    Pat, good to hear.

    Arny B., late night/24 hour eats are always fun places to hit in the wee hours of the night, and can really be, ehem, *cough-cough*, “interesting” to say the least! I was thinking of doing a local series on my blog of Dave Atell’s “Imsomniac” show, based specifically on late night restaurants on Oahu.

    Kristin L., the only problem of course here is the parking. Unless you’re here for, say clubbing, business or cruisin’ on foot around “Waiks”, it’s obviously not that convenient.

    Ryan, I find it odd that Falafel and regional middle eastern cuisine in general is still so rare to come across in Hawaii. I hope this type of cuisine grows here, as I really enjoy it!

    Aaron, OK, what exactly is a “Dude Felafel”? Whatever it is, I’m just glad you didn’t say I’m a “Chic Falafel” kinda’ guy. LOL!

    As for Erica adding BBQ sauce into your Kalua Pork, all I can say is, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on the MESS!!!! “Poho” already.

    Reply
  • April 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm
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    Pomai, well you may think so but his mom and other people try it and like it very much. With cole slaw it was great. It no PoHo after all but new creation. There no such thing as one way but Your way in cooking and cooking with flair be adventurous. Next Carnita pressure cooked for burrito and taco

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  • April 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm
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    Erica, the only thing I have against adding BBQ sauce to Kalua Pig, is essentially it sounds like it no longer is Kalua Pig, but is now more “country style” pulled pork. Still, OK, if you say so, I’ll “bite” and try it!

    I suppose the next question should be, what kind or brand of BBQ sauce works best with Kalua Pig? Something smokey? Fruity (guava!)? More sweet? Acidic? Both?

    Reply
  • April 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm
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    I was in Waikiki this weekend and had the lamb kebab. It was a little different then I have had in Sydney or Vancouver, but definitely good. I sent a California/ Asia business commuter there and he was so happy he went twice. He is very careful with meat choices because he cannot afford to get ill while enroute. In fact he will not eat meat in orient. He was thrilled to speak Hebrew with servers and will now make place his home restaurant while traveling.

    BTW, also had a chance to try the pulled pork sandwich at the Kapiolani farmers market on Saturday. 5 Spam Musubis. abalone for pupus were great also.

    Reply
  • June 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm
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    I def will go and try the Da Falafel King this weekend. A close friend is from the middle east so she has educated us on how to really be picky with our Shawarmas and Falafels i will let you know what we think!!! thanks for the great pictures

    Reply
  • February 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm
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    Da Falafel king is NOT cerified KOSHER!
    They are not under our supervision and therefore NOT kosher

    Reply

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