Update 7/29/14: Amun’s original location recently closed, and the restaurant is now run out of a bodega called “Seneca Falafel” on Seneca & Madison.
You may have heard about Ridgewood’s Little Nepal, but did you know we also have a growing Egyptian community? More specifically, we’re home to Egyptian Coptic Christians, or Copts — many of whom have fled to the U.S. following the Arab Spring revolution in their homeland. Two visible centers of the Coptic community can be found in Ridgewood: St. Mary & St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church and Amun Restaurant.
Quietly situated on Onderdonk Ave (corner of Menahan), Amun serves traditional Egyptian cuisine like falafel and ful and chicken mashwy as well as fast food–style American fare: burgers, fries, shakes, etc. They’re a popular delivery option and are open late (till 1am on the weekend!). We do not recommend dining in, despite the amiable owners and staff. The seating feels like an afterthought, and the place mostly serves as an office from which to print incoming Delivery.com and GrubHub orders.
We liked our falafel sandwich and dynamite sandwich (falafel, fried eggplant, french fries), but Amun needs to get a little looser with the tahihi sauce, and while they’re at it, maybe increase/vary the sandwich toppings (ours came with only lettuce and cilantro). Bonus points for making the sandwiches “rolled” style, with large, thin, unleavened pita bread; most places in NYC use small, puffy pita bread that is cut on one side, allowing sandwich fillings to be stuffed inside. Both styles have their merits, but we haven’t seen the rolled style outside of Michigan, and we felt nostalgic, okay?
Note the french fries and mango dipping sauce, which the Internet is generally losing its shit over. One Yelp review even compares them to our beloved Pommes Frites in the East Village. The truth: they’re consistently crispy (Amun excels at frying foods without being greasy), but they’re not hand-cut or anything, and the mango sauce is a tad thin and only tastes vaguely of mango (but we like it anyway).
Amun’s version of baba ghanoush is smokier, less creamy, and more dense than other babas we’ve had. The tahini on top amplified the non-creaminess. Our chief complaint is the inclusion of only one piece of pita bread; it’s not enough, especially for $4 and a pretty modest amount of dip. Also pictured: very tasty banana/mango/orange smoothie. Kids love ’em.
Ridgefood co-diner Parker liked the meat on his kofta sandwich, but “didn’t think there was enough meat…. I got the small option, which I guess is supposed to have less meat, but it still felt like disproportionately little.” And he thought the sandwich was “a tad dry” and that “they have tahini for dipping, but they should have more condiments in the actual sandwich.” Yes! Parker also noted that Amun is “kind of a bizarre place.” Yes again!
Our other diner, Kelly, ordered the lamb kebabs (pictured above) and noted: “I liked the lamb, most pieces were tasty.” She added that the “pita and tahini weren’t as good but still ok. The rice made up for it, maybe too big of a portion but it was a nice meal and I had enough to share.”
Oreo cheesecake, tiramisu, and homemade Egyptian baklava and basbousa (semolina cake soaked in syrup, with other flavorings like rose water and coconut) round out the dessert menu.
Weird vibes aside, the food’s pretty good. Maybe it’s not fully on par with the Egyptian Muslim restaurants in Astoria, Bay Ridge, or Jersey City but hey, it’s something! Be sure to try the Egyptian fare there, because it seems like most of their takeout and delivery orders consist of burgers and other American stuff. (The burgers are fine and all, and we especially like that they’re neatly wrapped à la In-N-Out, with part of the bun and patty sticking out.)
Amun plans to add a front deli area with salads, sandwiches, smoothies, so we hope this will give the place some much-needed atmosphere and foot traffic. And they’ll carry American and Egyptian grocery items, which some Egyptian Copt–owned bodegas in the neighborhood do not (Gates Deli, of ghostburgering fame, and the recently reopened All Friends Deli come to mind).
Looking for other sources of Egyptian & Middle Eastern products in Ridgewood? Try these nearby places:
Wallgate Deli & Grocery (best selection)
Try the halal butcher, located in the back of the store. And don’t mind the fact that they’re unappetizingly located next to 99¢ sister-store Wallgate Discount.
666 Woodward Ave [map]
Aghapy Food Inc.
603 Woodward Avenue [map]
607 Woodward Avenue [map]
(And of course Parrot Coffee)