e strategically sat at the counter, hoping that someone might prep a batch of falafel in front of us. It’s a mesmerizing sight to behold, watching chickpeas, herbs and garlic methodically find their way through the grinder. Fortunately, we not only geeked out over falafel, but they also blended the cucumber and fresh mint for our lemonade, as well as a spicy jalapeno condiment customers use at their own discretion. With diners often lined up outside the entrance, Falasophy’s team prepares, cooks and expedites tickets with precision in their new home at Irvine Spectrum.
In its original incarnation, Founder and Chief Falasopher Rashad Moumneh’s concept was and still operates as a food truck. Four years and two locations later, his once vegetarian menu has grown at the brick-and-mortar establishments, which now serve meaty proteins and extensive choices to appease varying appetites. Falasophy’s small plates and side dishes give gluten-free diners more options, while established salads and falafel creations are vegan-approved. Cheesy Lebanese taquitos and mini beef empanadas are quickly becoming our new comfort food. One of their newest entrees is an organic lamb pita, generously filled with pickled cucumbers, hummus and pomegranate dressing. The tender meat is slow braised for six hours with herbs and black garlic. Their Eggplant Baba Ghanoush also features a noticeable top layer of fermented black garlic.
Anyone that works with garlic will tell you its properties evolve as you cook it. Raw garlic has an intensity that gives it a bite. Roasting whole bulbs in the oven results in a sweet, sometimes nutty flavor. With regards to fermented garlic, the initial taste is an umami kick in the face, eventually mellowing out. Introduced to Rashad by Consulting Chef (and former food truck owner) Joe Youkhan, a black garlic fermenter allows chefs and home cooks to produce their own garlic stockpile at the touch of a button, plus a bit of patience. It is a small investment to generate rich results. Note: If you do not seriously love the aroma of garlic, a fermenter might not be for you.
After loading the InstaPot-looking device with approximately 16 garlic bulbs, the lid is sealed shut, and a countdown is set. No need to measure or add any other ingredients; the appliance does the work. According to Moumneh, it will take roughly eight days in a humidity and temperature-controlled environment, plus two additional hours of drying, before the garlic is to Falasophy’s standards. They previously intended to debut Baba Ghanoush Eggplant Hummus, a hybrid of two popular dishes. However, they realized the independent taste of each dish was more effective than their merger. Black garlic added a depth of flavor and unexpected hue to the already rich Baba Ghanoush.
Be sure to save the date! Falasophy’s official grand opening is slated for this Saturday, September 8. The first 100 guests in line at 11 a.m. will be treated to their very own New York-style Falafel Pita. Pickled red cabbage, cucumber-tomato blend and tahini sauce accompany the deep-fried goodness of house-made falafel, tucked into warm pita bread. Drizzle on some of their jalapeno sauce for a spicy finish, and grab one of their cucumber mint lemonades to cool off — it’s supposed to be a scorcher this weekend!
Falasophy is found in the new expansion at Irvine Spectrum Center, falasophy.com.