446C Dean St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
nr. Flatbush Ave
I got to Kulushkät at 8pm on a Monday. Two women were finishing their dinner, and sipping tea by the large storefront, a guy was just getting ready to take a bite from his impressively plated Shawafel. Two delivery guys were waiting in the corner for an order of hot sandwiches.
The six of us, were filling up the small, 12 seat restaurant, almost to the max. The phone was ringing every 5 minutes. Yagil Kadosh, the owner of Kulushkät was at the counter, doing pretty much everything; helping two kitchen workers to pack sauces and salads, filling pita pockets, taking calls and ringing up sales. In between, he found a few minutes to talk to me about his falafel shop.
“We are one person short tonight” he said apologetically. And when I commented on his impressive multitasking skills, he chuckled saying that he is no stranger to working under stress. “A year and a half ago, when the restaurant first opened, my former partner and I did everything. I was at the kitchen sauteing vegetables, making the sandwiches and handling the customers and Andrew was at the back frying and washing the dishes. And we were also delivering the food ourselves.”
The restaurant is small, perhaps more reminiscent of a ‘good old’ Israeli falafel stand, but that is as far as this analogy goes. You can forget about eating your pita while the tahini sauce is dripping on your pants. Here, your falafel is made practically to order and your shawarma, plated in a “gourmet restaurant” fashion (with a playful swirl of tahini above the colorful salad). “We make hummus usually about three or four times a day,” says Yagil,“ so if you walk in and eat hummus, it’s usually about an hour old. And we make our falafel twice a day, a batch for the morning and a batch for the night.”
Kulushkät (a Moroccan Arabic saying, coined by Yagil grandma that literally means “shut up and eat”) has received great write-ups from the NY Time, Serious Eats, the Daily News and the Village Voice. The NY Times describe the falafel as “crisp yet moist, airy yet creamy”. Serious Eats praises the ‘Eggplant a la Yafa’. In the menu, alongside the more traditional dishes, you’ll find unique combinations like Gilly Falafel (made with mushrooms and spinach) and falafel made with ground chicken.
Where do the recipes come from?
“The food is definitely inspired by the Israeli and Moroccan dishes my mom cooked when I was growing up.” Yagil’s mom Yafa, is doing much more than just providing the recipes. She is working alongside Yagil in the Kulushkat kitchen almost daily, helping to get the restaurant ready and cooking.
How is it to cook with your mom?
“It’s great! I come from a family of hardworking people. My brother comes to help out on occasion as well, so it’s a real family affair. Before the restaurant, I didn’t see too much of my family so I’m thankful to be able to spend time together.”
The restaurant that Yagil now runs with the help of his mother, he opened with Andrew Rowley, both met in college where Yagil studied graphic design and Rowley, cinema.
“We didn’t have any background in restaurant business,” he recalls. “I’ve never even waited tables in my life.” Prior to opening Kulushkät, Yagil and Andrew spent some time in Israel working at Hummus Lablabi, a small restaurant in Netanya, learning the ropes of the restaurant business.
“I can images that the operation of a hummus place in Netanya is quite different from a Brooklyn restaurant” I note.
“Very different,” says Yagil, “but it was a good place for us to start. We learned the basics, like knowing when to soak the chickpeas in order to make the hummus on time or what to do in the morning before opening and how to wrap up.”
Apart from reviewing the food, some of the attention Kulushkät got from the critics was related to its location- one block from the recently opened steel latticework facade. of the Barclays Center. I was curious as to how it affects the business.
“It’s too early to tell” says Yagil. “Since the opening of the arena, we had some better nights and slower ones. Barbra Streisand’s concert, for example, brought a lot of business. Jay-Z’s concerts, less. It would be interesting to see if the basketball fans like falafel.” he smiles. “But The arena wasn’t the main factor in picking this location. We chose the spot because it’s a meeting point of three neighbourhoods; Park Slope, Ft. Green and Prospect Heights. We’re getting traffic from all three and are delivering everywhere. We always knew that unless we make great food and the clients love us, we won’t get to see it’s opening.”
A few more people enter the restaurant and I feel I should wrap up my talk and let Yagil concentrate on service.
“What are your plans for the future?”
“I love to see the restaurant grow and open a in few locations. Me, personally? I’d love to take a break from NY buzz and travel to south America.
Written by Rita Schifter
Other articles and interviews by Rita Schifter:
Thanks for the write-up, Rita. Just wanted to clarify that my grandma did not coin the term Kulushkat. It's Moroccan arabic :)
We love this place. Try it out.
Especially love there Israeli salad and classic falafel