I’ve been back from Jordan for nearly a week now and still salivate at the thought of eating hummus and pita from Hashem. Prior to my trip to Jordan, I naturally looked up all the food places and foods I needed to try and found that Hashem was the only restaurant that consistently showed up on everyone’s “must try” list. Hashem showed up on TripAdivsor, NYTimes, niche little blogs, Wiki Travel, and even Arab news sites. It is frequented by upper, middle, and lower class Jordanian locals, as well as tourists. One journalist described Hashem as “a gateway for bridging the city’s well-off west end and its poorer eastern neighbourhoods.” It opened in 1956 and has been extremely popular ever since. The hummus recipe was brought over by the Palestinian founder, Hashem Turk, whose family owned a restaurant on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Israel.
In our one week trip where we were only in Amman for maybe two full days, we had Hashem four times. The first time was for dinner the night we landed. Second time was for breakfast the next day. Third time was the night before we were leaving Jordan. Fourth was the morning after at the airport where we savored our little tub of hummus that we had purchased to-go the night before. As someone who is almost morally opposed to eating the same thing when traveling, I know how ridiculous this is. But Hashem is really that good.
There’s no menu. You have the choice of creamy hummus, chunky hummus, and fuul (fava bean). Every meal is served with pita on pieces of paper (easy clean-up to say the least) and complimentary pickles, fresh basil, onion, tomatoes, and very sweet tea.
The star of the show is easily the hummus. This is the creamiest and freshest hummus I have ever tasted in my life. The chick peas are ground super finely and then mixed with tahini (sesame paste), plenty of lemon juice, and hyper rich tasting olive oil. It is served with finely chopped green peppers and whole chick peas in the center. The hummus has the right amount of salt and tang to shock your tastebuds, only to then be washed down by large pieces of pita bread. The hummus is more acidic than I’m used to in the US but is balanced by how damn creamy it is. I can’t even fully describe what it tastes like but trying to decipher the taste by memory is making me salivate.
Best supporting actor goes to the falafels. I never order falafels in New York because they are always deep fried, dense, and often too salty. Hashem’s little nuggets are the opposite. They are light, fluffy little bites and are not only much smaller than the falafels I’ve seen in New York, but are also less fried. The exterior fried skin is not a hard shell, rather, a delicate thin layer of crispiness to accompany the smooth and almost springy interior. Perhaps more baking soda used than here in the US? Not sure what the secret is but these little guys have changed my view on falafels forever.
I enjoyed them but didn’t like them as much as the little guys. They reminded me of Sichuan “怪味” (guai wei directly translated as “weird flavor”), a flavor that is often used in local Sichuan snacks. Guai wei is slightly numbing (from Sichuan peppercorn), spicy, sweet, and salty. These larger falafels tasted just like that. Very happy to have had them!
We all didn’t enjoy the fuul as much but I think it was mostly because we are not accustomed to eating so much bean. Fuul is essentially mashed up fava bean with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, etc. A fava bean version of hummus.
Every table had a little bowl of what looked like mouth-watering chili sauce. Given how the bowls just sit out and the incredibly large number of flies that hang out at Hashem, none of us were daring enough to try it. I sort of regret it because given that none of us got sick at all while in Jordan (and our travel guidebook said that getting sick from the food in Jordan is inevitable), I’d say we have pretty strong stomachs.
We returned to Amman the day before our departure because it is closer to the airport. We actually had dinner somewhere else already (a secret to be shared with LAW, H.W., and A.H.!) but decided that we needed to revisit Hashem before we left. We found that they have little to-go tubs of hummus and took one to-go. We diligently put it in our hotel fridge and grabbed it in the AM to bring to the airport. Best airport breakfast ever!
Oh, and the meals at Hashem all cost about $5… total. For four people.