Melbourne's Best Snacks: Half Moon Cafe's ta'ameya

Published on 14 October 2021

Photo: Half Moon Cafe's ta'ameya (illustration: Esther Sandler)

Melbourne, like many cities, has a love affair with falafel. While there are countless versions to try - particularly in the city's inner north - Half Moon Cafe's offering is a must.

There’s a little shop on a pedestrian mall in Coburg that measures out its heart in ta’ameya. That’s the Egyptian name for the meal-sized snack Melburnians better know as falafel, and the differences don’t end at linguistics.

This is a particularly verdant falafel, made with fava beans (otherwise known as broad beans) rather than the chickpeas favoured by the Lebanese, which are the more common example in Australia. Nabil Hassan opened his shop in 2003 but has been making ta’ameya for 30 years. As he explains it, “We love everything green, so there’s lots of coriander and parsley as well.” Cumin and coriander seeds go into the mix too, along with around a five per cent measure of chickpeas for added texture, but beyond that, all questions must desist: “I won’t tell my closest friends the secrets.”

It’s ta’ameya as performance art at this daytime-only gaff. Place your order then watch through the window as the balls of bright green paste are formed on a metal contraption and dropped into bubbling vegetable oil. They’re all about a fluffy interior encased in a layer of crunch, the standard version swaddled in pita with tahini, tomato, and pickles but the repertoire extends to hummus and olives, fried cauliflower and eggplant, babaghanoush and shanklish. A symphony of choice for around a tenner.

Half Moon Café, 13 Victoria St, Coburg.

By Larissa Dubecki.

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