New Rice Village Restaurant from Doris Metropolitan Owners Is Open!
Israeli restaurant Hamsa at 5555 Morningside opened on May 11. Itai Ben Eli, Sash Kurgan and Itamar Levy of Sof Hospitality — owners of Doris Metropolitan steakhouse and pastry shop Badolina (also in Rice Village) — are the forces behind the new restaurant, and all three bring personal experience to the project, as each was born and raised in Israel.
Chefs Sash Kurgan’s and Yotam Dolev’s menu is composed of “dishes rich with vegetables, spices and one-of-a-kind flavor profiles.” Some dinnertime examples include Eggplant Balady, Arak Mussels and a variety of meats and veggies on skewers made on a dedicated grill. For lunch, there are both light and hearty choices, such as Cauliflower Couscous Salad, Shakshuka and Grilled Branzino. Pita is baked onsite in a brick oven.
The service heavily emphasizes family-style dining, and guests are encouraged to order a variety of salatim. While the word technically means “salad” in Hebrew, in a dining situation, salatim also encompasses dips, spreads and slaws. After these starters, the next course consists of individual dishes.
Those who want the full Hamsa experience, called Yalla Yalla (the words are enthusiastic Hebrew slang), can reserve for the six-seat chef’s table.
Desserts are, of course, from Sof Hospitality executive pastry chef Michal Michaeli, who’s made quite an impression now that her skills are showcased at next-door pastry shop Badolina. Some of the desserts she’s created for Hamsa include Grilled Pears, Basboosa Malabi Cake and Nemesis Halvah.
General manager and sommelier Melissa Rogers has constructed a wine list that fittingly showcases Middle Eastern wines, including those from Israel and Lebanon. Unfamiliar diners seeking comfort more than adventure will find other bottles among the 150-plus options, too.
Lindsay Madrigal of LM Designs took inspiration for Hamsa’s design from the bustling cities of Tel Aviv and Morocco. The resulting look for the 4,600-square-foot space features colorful fabrics, modern furnishings and intricate patterns. There’s also a Champagne wall, and Hamsa shares a patio with Badolina Bakery.
Hamsa serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. (The restaurant is closed on Mondays.) For those who might be worried about parking: valet is complimentary (gratuity only).
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.