The masterminds behind upscale steakhouse Doris Metropolitan have opened a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Rice Village, offering Houston a taste of Israel.
Israeli natives Itai Ben Eli, Itamar Levy, and Sash Kurgan opened Hamsa Wednesday, May 11 at 5555 Morningside Drive, serving up an array of Middle Eastern dishes, like salatim — Israeli salads or cold, small dishes, to start — and shared plates rich in vegetables and spices.
“Hamsa,” related to the word for “five” in Hebrew, is an appropriate name given the 5555 Morningside Drive address, and also the name of the hand symbol that represents protection in many Western Asian cultures.
Led by chef-duo Sash Kurgan and Yotam Dolev, the menu features eggplant Baladi, mussels in arak, a distilled Levantine spirit made from anise and grapes, and a variety of hummuses and skewers. The restaurant is also offering a six-seat chef’s table option called the “Yalla Yalla” experience, where diners get a prime view of Hamsa’s brick oven, which bakes fresh pita daily, and the charcoal grill used exclusively to cook skewers. Lunch options will arrive soon with options like cauliflower couscous salad, shakshuka, and grilled branzino.
Desserts, prepared by Sof’s executive pastry chef Michal Michaeli, include Middle Eastern treats like grilled pears, basbousa malabi cake, and nemesis halvah. Customers will have more than 100 wines to choose from with an emphasis on bottles from Israel and Lebanon.
The 4,600 square-foot restaurant is also complete with a champagne wall and a shared outdoor patio with its sister establishment, Badolina Bakery & Cafe, which serves Israeli baked goods.
The decor, designed by Lindsay Madrigal of LM Designs, also takes notes from Tel Aviv, with colorful aesthetics, modern furnishings, and Moroccan accents, according to a release.
The owners behind Sof Hospitality, a newly established restaurant group, are also responsible for Doris Metropolitan, which first opened in Israel in 2008, then in Costa Rica in 2010, and in New Orleans in 2013 before opening in Houston in 2017. The restaurant chain’s sister-bakery Badolina opened in June 2021.
Hamsa is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.