Good to Go
Moti’s Falafel Stand
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Israelis take falafel seriously. So when Mordechai “Moti” Yitzhaky, owner of Rockville’s KosherMarts, decided to open Moti’s Falafel Stand in May, he bought his recipe from an expert falafel maker in Jerusalem who flew in to teach the kitchen how to make it properly.
That commitment to authenticity shows in the bright, crisp marriage of ingredients in the falafel, which is offered in pita bread ($4.99) or as a platter ($7.99) served with hummus, pita and Israeli salad, the latter a crunchy mix of diced tomato, cucumber, parsley, red onion and green pepper tossed with olive oil and lemon.
But Yitzhaky says the ingredients are only one component of successful falafel. “If you fry it half an hour before, it’s not good anymore,” he says. “When the customer orders, we make it on the spot.”
The other imperative, Yitzhaky says, is freshly baked pita. Made daily with equipment imported from Israel, Moti’s pockets are as soft as pillows, slightly chewy with a sweet, yeasty flavor.
The spartan but serviceable cafe, next to the original KosherMart on Rollins Avenue, is hardly bigger than a hot dog stand and consists of a short counter with a kitchen behind. To the left, a doorway opens to the back of the KosherMart, where a handful of tables await customers.
Besides the falafel, they would do well to order the shawarma, also offered in a pita ($5.99), on a baguette ($6.99) or as part of a platter ($8.99). The moist blend of turkey and lamb carved from the spit benefits from a dry rub of allspice, paprika, cumin and more before being flame-roasted.
All pita sandwiches are offered with or without hummus, and customers can load up, at no extra charge, on toppings from the fixings bar before the sandwiches are wrapped to go. The bar’s rotating selection includes diced onion with sumac, Israeli salad, fried or pickled eggplant, and schug, a red-hot mixture of chili pepper, cayenne, oil and spices.
Yitzhaky is still experimenting with the menu. Last week he introduced kosher burritos ($2.79) filled with ground beef, onion, shredded lettuce and rice — and, if you like, soy cheese.
— Rina Rapuano
Moti’s Falafel Stand, 184 Rollins Ave., Rockville. 301-468-4840
Hours: Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.