"Kuumba Du Falafel" is a 5mn walk or so from the "Shinsen" station on the Inokashira-Line, that is two stops from Shimokitazawa (or a good 30mn+ walk) or Shibuya. I have passed by the year-old restaurant so many times, it's hard to believe I never saw it. Sometimes it's really just about always walking on the "wrong" side of the street.
some dried fruit in glass jars on the nice "marble" counter
According to the Japanese owner, Kuumba means "to create" in Swahili, so "Kuumba Du Falafel" is an East African x French x Middle Eastern words to designate what simply is a Falafel joint. By the way, the shop manager I talked to is also the proud owner of "Kuumba International", a company specialized in the manufacture, import/export of essential oil and incense (an "olfactory", should you let me make this pun...), so the guy knows what he's talking about when it comes to smell and aromas.
The shop is clean, classy, light-filled thanks to big windows, with limited furniture, a single big marble counter for eating in and a kitchen in the back. The menu revolves around its specialty dish, the Falafel, served either in a HUGE pita sandwich or on a wrap all the ingredients yourself plate. They also have a Hummus plate that has to be good.
Should you not be versed in the Falafel, here's your Wiki article on the wonderful dish.
For your reference, the owner is a big Falafel fan who devoured the said dish in the four corners of the world, then tried all the Falafels he could find in Japan until he decided to cook them himself as he couldn't find his ideal version of the balls anywhere else here.
The plate, which is not cheap at ¥1,260 but oh so worth it, comes with two halves of Pita bread, a serving of hummus (chickpeas paste), a Tahini-based sesame sauce, five falafels, (what I assume to be) pickled Daikon radish, some marinated red cabbage, a HUGE salad composed of several herbs as well as cubed fresh tomato and cucumber, and last but not the least quickly fried eggplant slices. The picture doesn't give you any idea on the size of the dish, but believe me, it's quite big. If that doesn't fill you for the rest of the afternoon or the entire evening, well... there's a famous tonkotsu (pork carcass based broth) Ramen joint across...
The Falafels are an Israeli version (according to the boss), supposedly meaning that they are crunchier outside than say the more tender Egyptian version. The texture aside, the balls are aroma bombs of parsley, onion, garlic and god knows what and if you're into anything middle-eastern, you will LOVE them. The salad is fresh, BIG (too big), varied and topped with a spoonful of pleasant Genovese basilic paste.
There is a generous portion of delicate and not too garlicky hummus on the side which I put into my pita bread under the Falafels. On that same note, there are so many ingredients to fill your pitas with that it's almost like a puzzle when trying to do it correctly. You will most certainly end up finishing your salad on the plate, and not in the Pita.
By the way, should you not be into the idea of wrapping this whole thing by yourself or just don't want to eat everything separately, the gargantuan brick-like sandwich is the easy solution for you.
You can also see on the lower righthand side of the above picture some Tahini-based sauce that you can add onto your stuffed Pita. The sauce is rather liquid and probably thinned with water but still rich enough with sesame flavor, letting you enjoy some of its aroma without conflicting with the numerous other complex tastes. The pink dots you see are fantastic pink peppers.
the homemade pita
Lastly, a quick mention of the ocre tinted wholewheat Pita (and not the usual plain white ones) which the owner proudly presented me as homemade. What can I say, they're tasty, and though very thin are great in the literally supporting (the other ingredients) role.
Which reminds me that all the sauces, from a fantastic chili hot red one, the beige Tahini one or the basilic green paste are homemade.
It's not the easiest access that I have featured in this blog but it's really worth it. They also do take-out.
By the way, if you're into middle-Eastern fares, don't forget the cheap and good eatery Uchimura which also has Falafel, hummus and other delicious fares!
Kuumba Du Falafel is open everyday (for now, though they were saying it was time for them to take at least one day off per week, so please call them in the future to make sure they're open. They speak English) from 11:30am to 14:30 for lunch and 17:30pm to 22:00pm for dinner (close at 19:00pm on Sundays)
Shibuya-ku, Shinsencho 23-1
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