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Bedford Avenue is becoming the new West Bank — and you can blame falafel.
An Israeli food truck is encroaching on territory long claimed by Williamsburg’s beloved Palestinian-owned Oasis restaurant, forcing foodies to choose their sandwiches carefully.
For eight years, Oasis has satisfied the neighborhood’s hunger pangs with fresh, fully adorned falafel sandwiches for only $3 from its humble N. Seventh Street storefront.
But highly touted Manhattan-based Taim Mobile planted its flag into Brooklyn this month by parking its shiny, jet-black truck on Bedford Avenue on weeknights.
Taim is wooing discriminating foodies with its brand of made-to-order Middle Eastern meals that make you want to scream, “L’Chaim!”
So far, Williamsburg residents are raving about falafel specials such as Kalamata olive falafel with Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce ($6.50) and irresistible toppings such as pickled mango chutney, cilantro garlic spicy sauce, and feta cheese, as well as freshly-made fruit smoothies.
Jesse Sullivan, who picked up a sandwich on the way to his softball game, said it’s one of the best falafels he’s ever had.
“I like the hot peppers, and the bread is fresh,” said Sullivan.
And Michael Feinstein, who ordered a banana, dates and lime smoothie — with no added sugar — called his drink “f–ing delicious.”
“I didn’t even know I liked dates,” added Feinstein.
Naturally, Oasis’ Ihab Jibril sees the proliferation of food trucks on Bedford Avenue as a looming threat.
“It’s not just falafel — hamburgers, coffee, ice cream, tacos, maybe they could just stay in the park,” said Jibril. “It’s not fair for us. We pay a lot of rent and they don’t.”
Jibril says he has perfected the falafel sandwich — perhaps the best deal in Williamsburg — by keeping an almost holy devotion to his recipe and refusing to raise his prices. Oasis worker churn out 500 sandwiches a day — five times as many as Taim’s truck.
“Falafel in the Middle East is nourishment food for the poor, street food, and we tried to make it a popular sandwich here,” said Ibril. “I think we’ve succeeded.”
Like Taim, Oasis has its devotees.
Customers remarked how the sandwich has a perfect balance of sweet, sour and tangy flavors and almost never falls apart in your hands — unlike other sandwiches in the city.
Ben Van Leeuwen, who manages his eponymous ice cream truck a block away, says that Bedford Avenue is big enough for both falafel joints.
“In America, everyone can live in harmony — but Oasis’ prices are incredible,” said Van Leeuwen. “For $3, I feel like I’m robbing them.”
Oasis [161 N. Seventh St. at Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 218-7607]. Open 11 am-4 am; Taim Mobile (Bedford Avenue at N. Fourth Street in Williamsburg). Open 6 pm-10 pm. For info, www.taimmobile.com.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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