By Debra Liu
Creamy, healthy, nutty, and amazing with pita chips – those are some of the words that come to mind when I dream of hummus, which happens quite often. At Bustan, a new contemporary pan-Mediterranean restaurant in the Upper West Side, co-founder and Chef Efi Nahon, previously Executive Chef at Barbounia and Taboon, takes hummus to another level.
Bustan is currently celebrating National Hummus Day (May 15th) with its First Annual Hummus Festival. The festival lasts from May 11th through May 15th and during this time, the restaurant will be offering a special dinner menu of 16 variations of Chef Nahon’s award-winning hummus, both savory and sweet.
“Hummus can be a sharing plate or an entree. I love putting different toppings on it,” says Chef Nahon. And the toppings that he generously lavishes on this Middle Eastern chickpea classic are simply inspired and absolutely delicious. “We use a little bit from everywhere, from Spain, Italy, Greece, south of France – this is how I change the menu. taking street food, home food, and try to elevate it, building a cuisine,” he says.
“His hummus speaks for itself,” says Guy Goldstein, fellow co-owner and operational manager who most recently served as Wine Director and General Manger of Junoon. “There’s a quality level, he makes it so fresh. It’s really really top bar,” Guy says of Chef Nahon’s hummus.
According to Chef Nahon, people love hummus but still don’t know exactly how and where it can go with other foods. “It works for breakfast, lunch, dinner. My wife eats it with Indian food, vegetarian sushi, on sandwiches…everything.” With the hummus festival offerings, he aims to showcase just how hummus really can go with everything – from crab in the Shawarma Style Crab served with spinach and chickpeas, to lamb in the Braised Lamb hummus dish served with pickled onions and pine nuts. The Taboon Chicken Tandoori hummus is the most popular dish at Bustan, while Chef Nahon’s favorite is the hummus topped with Braised Beef Cheeks.
And let’s not forget the warm flatbread, freshly baked from the oven, which was incredible and probably the best flatbread I’ve ever tasted. The bread was baked in a taboon, which the restaurant has in-house. A taboon is the Middle Eastern equivalent of a wood-fired brick pizza oven. The oven cooks food more evenly, Chef Nahon told me.
Chef Nahon eats hummus everyday. “It’s something that is part of who I am, where I come from. When I lived in Europe and there was no hummus there, it was something I missed.”
When asked what customers say about the hummus at Bustan, Guy told me, “One word: wow.”
PS. I ended my meal with a chickpeas filled dessert, so basically a healthy dessert (am I right?). Feast your eyes on this :
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