Sunday - Thursday: 11:30 AM - 10:00 PM /
Friday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM /
Saturday: Closed / 201.569.5600
stars - based on 77
Friday, December 21, 2010
by Jeffrey Page
The place's name is Hummus and it's (almost) all hummus
(almost) all the time.
In fact, of the nine items on the entrée menu,
eight involve hummus, the great Middle Eastern comfort
food whose main ingredient is ground chickpeas. There's
hummus with mushrooms and white truffle oil, hummus
topped with an egg, hummus topped with fava beans,
even hummus topped with tahini, which is a cousin
of hummus made of ground sesame seeds. You get the
Hummus also is featured in several of the dishes listed
on the appetizer and sandwich menus.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. The hummus
at this four-month-old restaurant in downtown Englewood
has a fine rich flavor enhanced with salt and pepper,
garlic, cumin and a touch of jalapeño pepper.
It has about the smoothest consistency I've ever encountered
in this earthy concoction.
In addition to an inviting if idiosyncratic menu,
Hummus Elite's entrée prices are on the low
side so it's not difficult at all for two people to
dine for $50 or less.
To start, I ordered a bowl of lentil soup ($4.50),
a lifesaver on cold, blustery nights and a longtime
personal favorite. But it wasn't just lentils in the
bowl before me; those little brown legumes had been
cooked with fresh tomato, carrot, onion and celery,
making for a great, satisfying flavor. The only thing
that changes in the soup is that sometimes it's made
without the tomato, Giyora Malka, the owner and chef
of Hummus Elite, told me a few days after my visit.
My friend and I shared a plate of six falafel balls
($3.95) that were cooked perfectly. The exteriors
were crisp enough to crack slightly when I applied
my fork. The filling, made of ground chickpeas, retained
some of its moistness. The falafel balls were served
with a silky tahini.
We also divvied up an order of roasted eggplant served
with tahini and lemon sauce ($3.95) and my only complaint
– this from someone who has just lately come
to appreciate eggplant – was that there wasn't
enough of it. The proportion of veggie to tahini was
way off kilter so that long after we polished off
the eggplant, there remained a glut of tahini on the
For an entrée, I chose humshuka ($7.95), which
was precisely as the menu described it: Hummus topped
with stewed tomato, onion and peppers, plus a poached
egg. Sounds routine, but this is a worthy dish. I
must say, I never considered the idea of putting an
egg on hummus, but the mingling of the yolk and the
hummus was a nice discovery. The vegetables were cooked
to the point where they were beginning to fall apart.
But here, too, as with the roasted eggplant dish,
I wish there had been more vegetables and slightly
My friend had the dish that bears the name of the
restaurant. Hummus Elite ($8.50) is a large serving
of hummus topped off with cooked mushrooms and white
truffle oil, making for a savory and comforting dish.
She also ordered a small fatouch salad ($3.95), a
mix of chopped tomato, cucumbers, onion, and parsley
that was lightly dressed with an uncomplicated mixture
of olive oil and lemon juice, plus salt and pepper.
"I like simple," Malka said.
I don't know about you but I like to check out the
dessert menu early in a meal to look for sweet surprises.
At Hummus Elite I noticed something called ma'amoul,
which I didn't recall from visits to other Middle
Eastern restaurants. The menu described it as a shortbread
filled with walnuts and dates and I immediately committed
ma'amoul to memory.
But when I asked for it, the waiter said they were
all out. More's the pity because we wound up ordering
two small pieces of baklava, which tasted like a thousand
other baklavas – sweet and wheaty, with a slight
crunch. It wasn't bad; it was ordinary.
My friend asked for herbal tea, but all they had was
Lipton, not her favorite.
I asked for coffee and all they had was Turkish, a
favorite of mine. It was robust and deep. Just don't
stir it too vigorously or you could agitate the grinds
and wind up with a mouthful.
The tab came to $49.41 with tax and tip.
Friday, September 3, 2010
by Amy Kuperinsky
Starters is a first look at new restaurants. It is a
descriptive glimpse, not a critical review.
Giyora Malka hails from Michmoret, Israel, but when
it came time for him to devise his own fresh hummus,
he needed a refresher. Having lived in the United States
for a while, Malka had worked in high-end French and
Japanese restaurants for seven years in Manhattan after
graduating from the French Culinary Institute. So he
visited his mother and brother, who owns a hummus restaurant
in Israel, to re-learn how to make the ubiquitous spread.
The product of his efforts can be tasted at Hummus Elite,
the kosher-pareve Englewood restaurant Malka opened
in August alongside co-owner Shlomo Cohen, who is also
originally from Israel, specifically Kiryat Motzkin
Nutrition information about and pictures of chickpeas
decorate the small, 20-seat dining room with outdoor
seating for 16. Malka and Cohen renovated the space
for eight months, creating a simple, casual restaurant
at the former location of Central City Coffee on East
While Malka admits he can't exactly duplicate the hummus
found in Israel due to differences in local water, the
restaurant's hummus has drawn praise from some who might
be considered experts.
"I'm trying to do it as close as I can," Malka
says. "Every Israeli who has been in here told
me that this is the best hummus they've had in the United
Though supermarket hummus can safely sit in the refrigerator,
Hummus Elite's (available by the pound for takeout)
is "good for two days max," Malka says. That's
because no preservatives are used in its preparation.
Malka intended all dishes at Hummus Elite to be "simple,
yet fresh," able to be served within five minutes,
and, while using organic ingredients, still inexpensive,
all under $10.
Since the restaurant is kosher-pareve (neither meat
nor dairy), most dishes are also vegetarian (except
for one with tuna) and some are vegan (except for those
with egg). Popular so far are the restaurant's hummus
sabbich, topped with roasted eggplant, as well as the
falafel sandwich. The eponymous Hummus Elite platter
is topped with mushrooms and white truffle oil, a gourmet
touch that's also available as a side.
A non-vegetarian option is the Tunisian fricassee sandwich,
made with Malka's homemade deep-fried Tunisian bread,
which he likens to a doughnut. The sandwich is stuffed
with tuna, kalamata olives, egg, potato salad, pickled
lemon and hot sauce. Hummus Elite's salads include a
quinoa salad made with cucumbers and fresh mint, while
appetizers include a tahini plate. Customers have a
choice of regular and whole-wheat pitas.
Shortbread pastries filled with dates and walnuts and
Moroccan tea biscuits are available for dessert. Drinks
include homemade mint lemonade as well as Turkish coffee
and hot mint tea. A $9.95 lunch special runs until 4
p.m. weekdays, offering hummus or a sandwich with an
appetizer and soda.