AND THE WINNER OF THE WEST SIDE RAG HUMMUS TASTE TEST IS…

hummus taste test
Our reviewers hid their identities to maintain the integrity of the taste test, or maybe they were simply ashamed of how much hummus they had just consumed.

On Tuesday night, eight West Side Rag readers devoured bowls and bowls of finely mashed chickpeas and tahini in an effort to answer the critical question: Can a bowl of hummus possibly be worth $11?

bustan breadThe taste test was sparked by a spurt of outrage from some West Side Rag readers who argued in comments that the $11 hummus at new Mediterranean restaurant Bustan was overpriced. The comments got back to the staff at Bustan, which opened last month on Amsterdam between 83rd and 84th, and a publicist for the restaurant proposed that we taste their hummus. So we organized a taste test, inviting five restaurants and Bustan to offer up a bowl of hummus, served as it would be in their restaurants. Two responded, in addition to Bustan — Hummus Place on Amsterdam and 74th and Hummus Kitchen on Amsterdam and 80th. The test was held at Bustan.

We asked our eight tasters to disregard the fact that they were getting free food and evaluate the hummus with the critical eye of a food reviewer. They ranked each restaurant’s hummus and wrote down how much they’d be willing to pay for the dish (they all knew that Bustan charged $11 but were not told what the other two restaurants charged).

Here are the results:

Bustan was voted the best hummus-maker on seven of the eight ballots, with one reviewer preferring Hummus Kitchen.

Below, we’ve listed the average prices that reviewers would be willing to pay for each hummus, and some comments our reviewers wrote down:

Bustan: The average price reviewers said they would pay was $11.25 (one big spender was willing to fork over $15), versus the $11 that Bustan charges.

Bustan got a lot of love for its bread (pictured above), which was not traditional pita. It’s baked in the restaurant’s taboon oven.

bustan hummus“Creamy and rich with a bit of tang,” wrote one reviewer. “As amazing as the hummus is, the bread really sets it apart and easily catapults Bustan into first place. Bread is crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside, with a perfect amount of salt and rosemary.”

“Nice blend of hummus and tahini, olive oil drizzle,” wrote another.

“I will happily pay $11 for this as I feel much of the cost is the bread.”

The only slight criticism: “Could use lemon or garlic,” said one person.

Bustan
487 Amsterdam Avenue (between 83rd & 84th street)
(212) 595-5050
——————

Hummus Kitchen: The average price reviewers said they would pay was $7.50, versus the $10 that Hummus Kitchen charges.

hummus kitchenHummus Kitchen’s hummus was given to us and served in a plastic take-out container, which may have hurt the presentation. One reviewer said it’s a personal favorite, but they missed the “full chickpea display” that usually comes with Hummus Kitchen hummus. People tended to like the strong garlic taste, but criticized it for uneven texture.

It had a “strong tahini flavor” and was “more garlicky” than the other kinds, said one person.

“It was too loose for me,” said another, “and too much tahini.”

“There was more garlic, but it was still smooth with good flavor,” said a third.

Hummus Kitchen
416 Amsterdam Avenue (corner of 80th street)
212-799-0003
——————

Hummus Place: The average price reviewers said they would pay was $7.63, versus the $9 that Hummus Place charges at dinner.

hummus placeHummus Place employees brought in their own plates to present the food.

One called it “creamy and perfectly salty.”

Another said it was “too thick.”

“Thick with lots of tahini, but not the best,” wrote a third.

Hummus Place
305 Amsterdam Avenue (between 74th & 75th street)
212-799-3335
——————

So there you have it. Certainly this wasn’t a scientific test. But to our reviewers, Bustan’s hummus is apparently worth $11, particularly with the warm bread that comes with it. All the restaurants involved were good sports and treated our readers well. Check them out if you’re in the mood for hummus, or other Mediterranean delights.

And thanks to our reviewers, who were serious about their jobs, or at least as serious as hummus reviewers can be.

Mostly this was fun, and we’re hoping to have more events like it soon where more readers can participate.

NEWS | 21 comments | permalink
    1. hummuzlover says:

      Great event, Avi! Thanks for organizing.

    2. UWS-er says:

      Oh, come on. Hummus Place has far better hummus than Hummus Kitchen. Haven’t tried Bustan’s yet, but this makes me doubt the whole thing. Why not a blind taste test to make it legit?

      • hummuzlover says:

        What exactly are you doubting? It was a fun distraction on a Tuesday night. Did you read to the end where the Rag readily admits, “Certainly this wasn’t a scientific test…”? It’s OK to not always take life so seriously and you can even have a little bit of fun occasionally if you really want to.

        • uWS-er says:

          Thanks for the permission to have fun! I just would have loved to see a real blind test to know what people really thought, that’s all. Didn’t mean to ruin your night or anything. Yeesh.

          • Charlotte says:

            A real test is a blind test, so I thought they did it the proper way otherwise its all BS.

    3. TG says:

      Well, that was definitive. Well done, Bustan.

    4. Jack says:

      Nice event! I’ll have to try Bustan out.

    5. Anna says:

      I agree with the reviewers – Bustan’s bread alone is worth the money. So delicious. We went there a couple of weeks ago and had some dips (not hummus, though) – overall very good – but we still talk about that bread!

    6. Bustan says:

      Many thanks to the West Side Rag for taking an idea and running with it to organize such a terrific event. Equal appreciation to Hummus Kitchen, Hummus Place and the eight intrepid tasters for embracing the hummus taste test with the spirit of fun envisioned for it.

      Bustan is proud to have been the site for the West Side Rag’s inaugural readers’ event and looks forward to having the opportunity to participate in future WSR sponsored events.

      The Bustan Team

    7. Douglas Lee says:

      I was dining with my wife at Bustan for the very first time and observed the Great Hummus tasting. We couldn’t wait for the results. Everyone seemed to be having great fun at this wonderful restaurant.

    8. dcortex says:

      A side order from my local falafel restaurant cost 4 dollars and yields 3 times the amount of Hommus…this pricing is outrageous!

    9. Violet says:

      You should’ve included Nanoosh.

    10. rob says:

      Now a survey needs to be taken of the hummus available in supermarkets. One vote for Yorgo to start the ball rolling.

    11. EL says:

      I agree with UWS-er completely. Blind taste test would have been the way to go, or what’s the point? Will try Bustan tonight because I’m trying to keep an open mind.

      • Charlotte says:

        If it was not a blind test it was just a promotion for Bustan, and very misleading at best.

    12. Charlotte says:

      I too think that Humus Place is far better than Humus Kitchen. I would love to try the Humus at Bustan and I will.
      I also wonder how many of the testers were avid Mediterranean food censures.
      In there lies the difference…..

    13. Nostradamus says:

      I’m a few years late to this party but I want to add my voice to those who said it was a fun article, and I congratulate Place and Kitchen for participating!