Hummus Bar opened in December 2006 in Tarzana Village, a strip mall in a neighborhood with a large Israeli community, specializing in the Middle Eastern garbanzo bean dip. Though it’s had a short life, Hummus Bar already produces superior food. Most of the credit should go to Ziva Ovadia, the chef and co-owner, who makes almost everything fresh daily.
At Hummus Bar, everybody’s favorite garbanzo bean dip comes with many possible toppings: tahini sauce, fava beans, sautéed mushrooms and onions, chickpeas, grilled pinenuts, jalapeno-infused tomatoes, and the poached egg and spicy tomato sauce combination known as shakshuka.
We ordered Hummus Sabich ($9.99), hummus topped with roasted eggplant, tahini sauce, thin-sliced hard-boiled egg and more parsley and olive oil. The cuts of eggplant were terrific, with almost caramelized skins.
Allison and I split a blackboard special ($9.99) featuring hummus, topped with tahini sauce and three falafel balls, dusted with chopped parsley and drizzled with olive oil. The falafel featured micro-thin crusts and moist interiors…that were green. It was very good, spooned into a pocket of warm pita with tahini and hummus.
It turns out Chef Ovadia serves two kinds of falafel: “white,” which is the standard incarnation; and “green,” seasoned and colored with parsley and cilantro. Our waitress informed us that “green” is the typical Arabic preparation.
To drink, Allison ordered home made lemonade ($2.15), which was just fine. I considered tea with mint and Turkish coffee, but considering the outside temperature was in the triple-digits, I stuck with ice water.
Since desserts are made in-house, we ordered Malabi ($2.75), a cold Summer pudding topped with rosewater and piles of chopped pistachios and finely-chopped coconut. It was very good, especially mixed together. In the Winter, they offer Sachleb, a warm pudding topped with coconut and cinnamon. They also have baklava and Bavarian cream.
Israeli hummus-focused restaurants have already attained a following in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, but have been largely absent in Los Angeles. Hopefully Ziva Ovadia will help usher a wave of these restaurants to the West Coast. Not that I think they can get much better than Hummus Bar.