Ahmad Al Alaea started cooking out of his popular food truck Wazzup Falafel in 2019. The truck, named for the famous Scary Movie scene (itself inspired by a famous Budweiser commercial), soon drew a devoted following for its small menu of vegan falafel wraps and pitas.

When the opportunity arose to open a second location, chef and owner Al Alaea jumped at the chance. Last week, he opened a Wazzup Falafel storefront on Northcote’s High Street, taking his friend and now business partner Bara Sifi along for the ride.

Al Alaea is no longer vegan (he’s now an avid vegetarian), but he says he used to have trouble finding restaurants with vegan menus that catered to his tastes. “I wanted to offer something that had the same taste and richness, that the community could trust was 100 per cent vegan,” he tells Broadsheet.

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The venue is clad in warm wood panels, and bar seating at the front window looks out onto High Street. Small tables down the sides provide a cosy place to sit and enjoy your Wazzup haul. Al Alaea can be seen in the semi-open kitchen rolling wraps, assembling piping-hot bowls of fatteh, handing out single-serve falafel to customers – and always sporting his signature cowboy hat.

The star of the show at Wazzup (aside from Al Alaea’s hat) is the falafel. “I’m Jordanian, and when I moved here I couldn’t find anywhere that served the authentic falafel from home,” he says. “My friend’s father owns falafel and hummus restaurants in Jordan and I went back to learn from him.”

The dish arrives in the form of small, pill-shaped balls that are toasty-brown and piping hot, served alongside green-chilli-dressed whipped tahini and hummus. Al Alaea explains that his Palestinian-Jordanian falafel is made with chickpeas, a small amount of fresh parsley, a dash of bicarb soda to provide that fluffy bite, and the proprietary Wazzup 21 spice blend (the recipe for which he will not divulge).

Aside from the eponymous falafel, Wazzup takes great pride in its hummus. Chickpeas are soaked for 16 hours, then boiled, skinned, and blitzed with tahini, ice and fresh lemon juice. The dip’s then topped with copious amounts of fresh olive oil, diced green chilli and whole-boiled chickpeas.

Everything is done in-house: the pita is made fresh every morning, along with the falafel mix, hummus, tahini and all the condiments. It’s a labour of love – which is what Al Alaea believes makes all the difference: “You can taste the freshness. I’m so proud of everything that we make.” The menu at the High Street location has evolved from what was available at the food truck, with stuffed falafels, fatteh and musabaha (a hummus-like dish with whole chickpeas) now available.

This story was updated on March 18, 2024.

Wazzup Falafel
343 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9386 0494

Hours:
Wed to Sun 11am–9pm

@wazzupfalafel5