One of the world's great transformative food experiences is eating a bowl of hummus on the street in Israel. Rather than a dip or condiment, Israeli hummus is served as the main attraction. It comes warm, often with garbanzos or fava beans or some other topping, a boiled egg if you so desire, and you eat it with warm pita and raw onions and a spoon or fork. The hummus itself is the star of the experience.
I had never managed to replicate this hummus experience in the United States, until a few months back when I heard rumors about a guy in North Hollywood who was making hummus so good, he had gained a cult following in the Israeli expat community. At that point he was only doing catering, but one day an Israeli friend of mine took me to his house, and I got to try the hummus in question. And it was everything my friend claimed it would be — utterly authentic to the experience of eating hummus on the street in Israel: creamy, warm, topped with ful (fava beans) and a boiled egg, scooped up with hearty thick pita bread imported from Israel.
At that point, the maker of the hummus, who was introduced only as Tony, was doing a few catering gigs out of his house. Tony was a former party promoter, and he told me wild stories about his life as a club kid in Miami. Slash was a personal friend, he said. But one day he got tired of all the partying and decided to dedicate his life to making hummus. There were plans to open a shop. It would be called Hummus Yummy. "Terrible name," I thought. But I'd eat this hummus anywhere, anytime, no matter what it was called.
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For months I followed Tony and Hummus Yummy on social media, as hints were dropped about when and where the shop would open. I craved the hummus regularly. Then in late December, there was a great unveiling: Hummus Yummy would debut as a food truck, serving mainly in the San Fernando Valley, and with the slogan: "The beast from the Middle East."
This week, I stopped by the truck in Valley Village and was not disappointed. There was the same hummus, warm and creamy and drizzled with olive oil and your choice of toppings. You can get hummus with shakshuka, or mach'lutta, which is a combination of garbanzos, ful and a squeeze of lemon. The truck also makes falafel, which come as a sandwich (true to the traditional Israeli fashion, they come stuffed into a round pita rather than as a wrap), or as a side dish. The falafel are small and intensely crisped, with a soft, appropriately green center. Big rounds of that imported fluffy pita come on the side, as well as wedges of raw tomato and onion. After months of dreaming about it, my craving was finally satiated.
Hummus Yummy is serving lunch most days (except Saturday) in various locations around the Valley, and one day a week on West Third Street in Beverly Grove. You can follow the truck's movements on Instagram, or by checking its website: hummusyummy.com.