Finally some decent falafel - Michoz, Hillcrest
- Josh May 19, 2012 12:43 PM
Off The Sajj in Hillcrest has new owners, and is now called Micho'z. Still a Lebanese menu, but the food is significantly improved.
One of my biggest gripes about Mama's (and Off The Sajj) is that the falafel isn't very good. They take already fried falafel balls and simply reheat them on the sajj, which makes for pretty lackluster falafel. Here they fry them to order.
The hummus and baba ghannouj are also excellent.
If you're someone who needs to eat gluten free, they will accommodate by bringing lettuce leaves instead of pita for dipping. The falafel is made solely from chickpeas, with no regular flour added.
Outer crust was a nice dark brown color, and very crisp. As for flavor, they tasted like falafel. :-) Pretty much ground chickpeas, garlic, and spices. They were pretty flavorful on their own, but the tahini sauce complemented them well. Interior was moist.
They were served with tahini sauce, pickles (cucumbers and house-made turnips), and tomatoes. Normally pita bread is served with them, but obviously we didn't have that.
I went there for lunch yesterday as well, by myself, so I did have the baba ghannouj wrap on the sajj bread. Very tasty. I predict many more visits here, and the prices are quite reasonable.
Do you know where the owners, and especially the cooks, are from in the Middle East? In that region, the Lebanese kitchen is widely held to be the best. Subsequently, sometimes in America the "Lebanese" menu that Eastern Mediterranean restaurants advertise are not necessarily owned or staffed by Lebanese. Authentic falafel is not likely to come from a restaurant that does not have roots in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, or Lebanon. I would love to find here in San Diego some authentic mutabal, an eggplant based dip similar to, but not the same as, baba ghanous. Any local recommendations?
I'm not familiar with that dish, but you could ask the owner. He seems pretty knowledgeable, and expressed the opinion that frequently places that sell themselves as Lebanese aren't true to the cuisine (I'm heavily paraphrasing here). He also mentioned some new dishes coming soon. IIRC he did say they were Lebanese.
One unusual detail I haven't seen anywhere else, when you sit down they bring a dish of raw carrots dressed w/ salt and lemon juice. Kind of a nice starter to a meal.