It’s been a hummus-filled week, folks. Alongside the arrival of Panorama near Union Square, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant VISH Vegetarian Hummus opened up earlier this week on E. 8th Street in the heart of NYU’s campus community. Falafel-lovers’ favorite, Maoz Vegetarian, closed in the spring and left a pita-shaped void on the block. But since VISH is opening in the exact same spot, fans can rest easy.
VISH has its roots in Israel, where in 2008, self-proclaimed “alternative medicine therapist” and practitioner of Breslov Hasidism, Eliyahoo (AKA Eliyahu Shmueli) shifted from sifting through natural extracts to blending chickpeas. He wound up forming one of the nation’s most popular franchises of hummus-based restaurants. But here in the states, a young man named Suf Yosef Amir runs the Manhattan branch.
“I met Eliyahoo when I was 16 years old. He opened a restaurant—hummus—near my house. Now we open hummus [restaurants] in the world,” says Amir.
Amir’s laid-back, goofy demeanor seems in perfect harmony with the employees’ green shirts, which sport the phrase “WISH I HAD A VISH” on the back.
But the restaurant’s prize gem is clearly its fresh hummus, which is ground fresh in front of customers. No half-thawed, frozen chickpeas here. This stuff is the real deal. Customers can pile the hummus along with mushrooms, vegan shwarma and other kosher assortments into a warm, Yemeni pita or combine the mix in a chopped salad bowl. The classic “OG VISH” hummus tempts the taste buds with creamy chickpeas sprinkled with olive oil, cumin, pakrika and chili peppers. Amir is also found of the “Vishuka” or a blend of hummus with the regional dish Shakshuka, which contains poached eggs doused in Moroccan sweet red pepper and spicy tomato sauce.
The hummus bar is formally open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but unofficially, it closes whenever they run out of the decadent spread. Get there early! Amir says another VISH location is expected to open up in Brooklyn in the next two months.
VISH is located at 59 East 8th Street.