As Thanksgiving break approaches, it is an occasion to not only enjoy a traditional feast with family but also to try food from other cuisines. For me, Taïm — a self-described “Mediterranean kitchen” — is a wonderful step outside of the typical flavors in the Orange Bubble.
Located in the same shopping center as Nomad Pizza, its location in Princeton is one of many on the East Coast that are part of its franchise. Though Taïm’s menu was surprisingly simple, it still has enough items to satiate a customer’s appetite. Each main dish came with the option of being served either in pita or in a bowl with a base of the customer’s choosing. I ordered the chicken shawarma, described on the menu as a “Mediterranean classic,” and I customized it as a bowl with a hummus base, adorned with toppings of whipped garlic and crispy shallots. Meanwhile, my parents decided to make the falafel platter and fried cauliflower shawarma into pita sandwiches.
The golden-brown heads of cauliflower in the cauliflower shawarma gave a satisfying crackle as I bit into them. Mango sauce saturated the pita and shreds of pickled red onion asserted a moderate acidity. At the first bite of the sandwich, I was taken aback by the creamy, velvety hummus in the flatbread. The cauliflower shawarma performed a melody of textures, harmonizing with the hummus and pita.
Though the cauliflower shawarma was a delightful experience, the same could not be said for its chicken counterpart. When I dove into the chicken shawarma bowl, I found that though the chicken was decently savory, it was considerably stringy and dry as well. However, every other aspect of the bowl collectively redeemed the dish. The mini salad, consisting of diced cucumbers and tomatoes, provided a refreshing respite from the other relatively rich foods. In addition, the pickled red cabbage brought another facet of sharp contrast. To top it all off, the tahini and garlic sauce tied the bow with their respective nutty and pungent savors.
On the other hand, the falafels were rather forgettable. While they were enveloped in the warm pita, their extremely rough outer surface and semi-dry, crumbly interior ultimately made it my least favorite dish of the meal — though admittedly, the flavor and texture of the falafels improved when paired with tahini.
As for the sides, the toasted cumin rice was perfectly al dente and complemented all of the main dishes. The fries, likely an attempt to appeal to customers with hesitant palettes, were scrumptiously crispy. Their thin-cut lengths were the perfect size to dip in the saffron aioli and tart harissa ketchup that served as accompanying condiments.
This dinner brought back many vivid, pleasant memories of the Mediterranean cuisine in my hometown, similar to the experience of Einat Admony, Taïm’s chef and owner, who wrote on her website that flavors, smells, and sounds “flood [her] with memories and bring [her] instantly back to [her] childhood.”
She elaborated that cooking and food make her feel “whole” by acting as “a way to connect the past with the present and future.” Resonating with this message, especially after such an enjoyable and evocative meal, I felt the power that Taïm’s food had. “Taïm,” in fact, translates to “tasty” in Hebrew, and Admony’s restaurant certainly lives up to its name by evoking precious memories of food through its impeccable taste.
Russell Fan is a contributing writer for The Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ Please send correction requests to corrections at dailyprincetonian.com.