★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
81 King George
Sunday – Thursday (11:00 – 12:00)
Friday (10:00 – 5:00)
Saturday (11:00 – 12:00)
After spending four months living near Abu Dahbi hummus and hearing tales of its glorious hummus, Doug and I figured we should check it out before moving out of Tel Aviv to Nof Yam. Although we had leftovers in our fridge that needed to be eaten before we moved, we intentionally went out to eat dinner. To be honest, I wish we hadn’t.
The restaurant is Rastafarian themed, complete with tie-dye color-schemes, Bob Marley photos, and hippie-esque waiters. The staff was incredibly friendly, and, sensing our indecisiveness, let us sample some fresh hummus mashoosha.
What is hummus mashoosha, you ask? It’s hot chickpeas mixed with garlic, lemon, and tahini. The warm hummus had a tangy taste from the lemon and a nice bite from the chunks of garlic. There was just enough tahini for the flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the hummus. The chickpeas were super soft and disintegrated into the hummus once it touched your tongue. It had a grainy porridge texture I’ve never experienced in hummus before, which set it apart from all other hummus. All in all, though, it was a rather plain dish. Unique, but plain.
After much contemplation, we decided to order the plain hummus. The other offerings were intriguing, but none sounded quite as good as regular hummus.
While we waited for our order, we munched on some olives. Unfortunately, they were of the bitter and sour variety. I love olives, but I prefer those that are meaty and easy to bite, not the type that are tough and thin. Abu Dahbi’s were much the latter. They also tasted alcoholic, in a way.
Our hummus arrived, beautifully arranged with a handful of whole chickpeas, a hard-boiled egg splayed out, and paprika, parsley, and olive oil sprinkled on top. Sadly, the dish didn’t taste as good as it looked. The whole chickpeas were firmer than those in the hummus mashoosha, but were entirely tasteless. The hummus itself was incredibly creamy, like a yogurt. It was so smooth that it seemed airy and insubstantial. As the hummus-loving daughter of Israeli hummus lovers who are the children of Sephardic hummus makers, I’ve eaten a ton of hummus in my lifetime—Abu Dahbi’s hummus did not taste like any I’d ever eaten before. By the second, confused bite, I missed the grainy texture I’m accustomed to in hummus. Whatever we had in front of us just didn’t seem like hummus. To add some flavor and excitement to the dish, we mixed in some schkug they gave us on the side. It was hotter than schkug usually is, but the creamy egg yolk was able to cool the burn.
I left Doug to finish the hummus. He wasn’t a huge fan of what he considered chickpea-flavored yogurt, but with the schkug and a pita, it was filling enough. When he finished (which for once in his hummus-eating life didn’t mean wiping the plate clean), the waitress brought us espresso shots. We sipped them, spending the time trying to figure out how Abu Dahbi made such (overly) smooth hummus. The espresso was strong and flavorful and, contrary to most espressos from my perspective, drinkable.
While the hummus definitely didn’t satisfy our hummus cravings, we were happy that the bill was only 21 shekels. Cheap, if not good.