Sunday, May 15, 2011

The new Sunnin

You can't go home again...
Or so they say.
Sunnin is an old institution in LA that's been around for nearly 20 years.
They used to be a hole in the wall place that had cheap pricing and gave a lot for that money.
But now they've grow. They've built a new much fancier place across the street and unfortunately while you do get more of a seating experience in the new place - in terms of food they seemed to have deteriorated.

I don't know what changed. I really don't. But something of the old fashioned magic is gone.
I ordered Hummus as a take away and for $6.00 - which is their basic price they gave me a tiny portion of Hummus in a take out box. 
What was that about? 
For $6.00 take away you can't just get the same amount of Hummus you'd get on a place if you were sitting there. 
Also, the Hummus itself was good but not great. It didn't taste that fresh and it didn't have that extra punch that the old Sunnin used to have.

I don't know what the story is. Maybe I just came there on a bad day - but the fact they moved to a bigger and nicer place should have motivated them to be better than the old Sunnin. They should have given more food for a cheaper price rather than give less food for a higher price - cause that's always the best way to eventually lose your core audience of Hummus lovers like myself that hate to feel they're cheated.

Since the Old Sunnin had such a good reputation I'll be back to the new Sunnin and hopefully they will improve. I'm hoping they will but one never knows.

Sunnin Restaurant:

1776 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024-5646
(310) 475-3358

Friday, January 21, 2011

Great Hummus in Israel: Kibbutz Einat

In recent years a lot of new Hummus restaurants have emerged in Israel in a lot of new and untraditional places.  Here's one of the underground places that is known only to Hummus connesseurs.

Who would have thought that a great Israeli Hummus joint would be found in a Kibbutz. 
The "Jingi" - the Hebrew word for red haired - or freckled one, depending on how you understand it - is located in a tiny little joint on the outskirts of the Kibbutz.
The Jingi opens at around 8:00 am and closes at around 1:00 pm - or as his banner states - when the Hummus he made in the morning ends.
He wasn't joking. I came at 12:55 to get the last plate and at 1:00 pm a few people came and were told that they were too late. The Hummus joint is closed as he's run out of Hummus.

Funny that a Hummus joint closes exactly when people are starting to come out to eat Hummus. But that's the rule in this really great little place.

I asked the owner about this and he told me that he makes the Humus himself and has no aspirations to hand over his recipe to anyone else.
Not because he's afraid they will steal his recipe but because he thinks they won't make it as good as he does.

"You can double your money" I tell him - and he smiles and says - "So? " and continues " That's the problem with todays society. Everyone is so hungry for more. More land, more cars, more bling. More everything and at the end - only the drug companies make money - cause we're so depressed we can't eat everything we want that we take anti depressants to conquer our frustrations. I've only wanted to make Hummus" he tells me  and continues " And I sell only what I can make. Not one ounce more"

Looking at all the people who drove to Kibbutz Einat especially for his Hummus and were a few minutes too late - I realize he isn't kidding. He's not going to make more Hummus than he does.

The Hummus is wonderful and so is his Falafel but what was annoying to my colleague that came with me is that the options in this little joint are so limited. She wanted Hummus with Mushrooms but they didn't have it. They basically have Hummus and Falafel.
They didn't even have pickles on the side.

For those loving good Hummus - I highly recommend this place. 
The Hummus is awesome. Their Pitas are fresh and tasty. The falafel is superb and the owner is a great person to talk to about life and Hummus.

For those wanting more than just a basic Hummus plate and crave for all the extras of a full middle eastern restaurant - I think you need to look elsewhere.

Monday, December 13, 2010


End of the year, and so it's time to make a list of the best and worst Hummus places in LA and how did they hold up this year.



The winner for this year is Chapa on Wilshire and Crescent. Their Hummus might not be magical like I would want it to be but it is good working man's Hummus that is always fresh and always served in large quantities with free pickles and lots of olive oil. All for a logical fit for all price that makes this my winner for best hummus in LA.

That said, in my last two visits I've noticed they've reduced the amount of Pitas they serve with the plate from two to one which is very annoying and disrespectful to their Hummus loving customers. 
I hope they will not try to immitate their competitors that lowered the quality of their Hummus while raising prices and giving less for more $$$.

I also recommend their Falafel which is amazing and gets my two thumbs up easily beating many of their competitors.


The list for awful places is long and plenty. Sadly both Israeli and Arabs from all nations in the middle east have no problem opening places that serve awful Hummus  that doesn't taste fresh, is served in small quantities and is extremely expensive. 
It's sad that so many middle easterners feel that they can con their brothers and sisters in LA with Hummus that's expensive and simply disgusting and they are helping give middle eastern food an awful name.

I guess Hummus is a very personal thing and to each person there's his own taste buds. But that said, talking to my friends - there's quite an agreement among them that the winner for the WORST HUMMUS RESTAURANT in LA for 2010 is AROMA CAFE.

Aroma wins not just because of it's awful Hummus but for the overall experience. Expensive food, disgusting waiters and waitresses that treat customers like dirt, are mean spirited, slow, unhelpful and seem to have the backing of their bosses to be as evil to their customers as possible.

For those going to Aroma, all I can say is that you deserve the attitude and high bill you'll get there.  Aroma brings out a lot of negative emotions from me.
So even before their awful Hummus is served - the overall attitude of everyone around makes me sick.

Happy holidays everyone and enjoy the Hummus of the new year!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


A friend took me to Chapa, a new place a few months ago in a small strip mall on Crescent Heights and Wilshire.

For those not familiar with LA, Wilshire is one of the hubs of the business area in Los Angeles and so finding a small Israeli place there is kind of wierd.
That said, the Israeli consulate, the Jewish federation and Nu Image, the Israeli owned production company that has already produced hundreds of successful features with many Hollywood stars are all located there so it's an area that has a lot of Israelis that will appreciate a great hummus place.

The place looks uninspiring. I went back there with an American friend to see how a local will react to the food and ecor and he didn't understand it.  But for Israeli's this place reminds them of many famous Hummus places in Israel that have that grundgy run down atmosphere.  It's like for a New Yorker to come to Los Angeles and enter Canters or Jerry's deli... and be reminded of Carnegie Deli or 2nd Avenue deli.
It feels authentic and real. For others it might just look run down and greasy...

The food is really tasty. Try their Falafel, it's superb. The Hummus is very Israeli style.
They give large portions and are very generous with all their food. The pitas were fresh.
The chicken Shawarma, according to some is a little too greasy.  I didn't try it - but an Israeli friend who tried it claimed it's just like in Israel in any Shawarma Joint.

Prices were great and unlike many of the other places I've reviewed - were logical and made me want to come back.

If I have one complaint about the place it was that because it's so packed during lunch- you have to stand in a long line and wait and also it takes awhile to get the food.
Guess, I'm not the only one that discovered how good the food is here.

Since in past reviews of new places, after the initial newness of the place faded and the owner started serving small portions of unfresh food - this time I waited and visited the place three times before writing this review and it was always great - only the lines to buy the Hummus got longer and longer - proving that some people can be suckered some of the time- but most people- especially middle eastern food lovers can't be suckered all the time.
A lot of people are fed up with the expensive price of mediocre food they get in other places and so the rumor of Chapa's wonderful food and cheap prices has spread fast and people are going there to curb their Hummus craving.

This place isn't meant for a romantic middle eastern place for a date. But if you already have love and want to treat her to good food or ...
If you're on a love break and just want great Hummus in the meantime -
This Hummus place will do the job perfectly.

I wish Chapa a lot of success and hope they won't be influenced by their competitors and raise prices and lower the quality and quantity of the food once they get a little more established.

In the meantime - all I can say for lunch: CHAPA IS FIVE FALAFEL BALLS in my blog!

6256 Wilshire Blvd
Los AngelesCA 90046
Neighborhood: Mid-City West
(323) 936-2460

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Itzik Hagadol - Encino, California

OVERALL RATING: * ( 1 star out of 5)
TASTE: * ( 1 star out of 5)

Itzik Hagadol is an Israeli restaurant across the street from the Encino Town Center shopping mall. A great location for a restaurant in Encino that holds so much potential. It shares the same name as a popular middle eastern restaurant in Israel.  From their website it seems that the two restaurant are connected:

Currently this is the most expensive Middle Eastern restaurant I've eaten in the united states - and unfortunetly the price doesn't justify the experience.
Even their lunch menus are super expensive. 
An average meal is between $30 - $50 per person and when you think what you get in return - some  Hummus and a little bit of middle eastern food -you ask yourself are people crazy for agreeing to pay that price?

As for the taste:
The Hummus is mostly bland and uninspiring just like most of their salads.
That said, their Pitas are baked on the premise and are wonderful and fresh. 
Their lunch 10 salad special is a scam. It's not only expensive (about $10 per person as a main dish and about $6 for a side dish and everyone at the table is forced to pay it regardless if only one person orders it or if everyone orders it) They bring to the table those salads that are the least inspiring. They don't give Hummus, Tabulleh or any of the salads that are what people usually desire and expect when they crave for middle eastern salad.

During lunch when I was there, the place was packed which proves that perhaps some people don't mind paying a lot and getting very little. 
Nearbye there are a lot of middle eastern restaurants. One of them even advertises a full buffet meal for $9.99. So it make one wonder about the logic or rational of Hummus lovers.

Here is their address for those not caring about price or taste. 
17201 Ventura Boulevard
Encino, CA 91316
(818) 784-4080