Oren’s Hummus Expands to Cupertino

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren's in Cupertino. Swoon.

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren’s in Cupertino. Swoon.


You know when you find the one?

The jubilation you experience when you discover the singular personification of perfection?

That’s how I felt the first time I tasted the hummus at Oren’s.

People who have never experienced Oren’s look at me funny when I rhapsodize dreamily about this chickpea spread. Really? Who gets this excited about hummus of all things? But Oren’s hummus has spoiled me for all other hummus now.

It is hands down the smoothest, creamiest, most luscious tasting hummus you’ll ever experience.

The only problem came when Oren’s had only one location in downtown Palo Alto. A narrow little space, it had a line out the door no matter what the hour. It was nearly impossible to get into. For the longest time, I had to be content with just grabbing a tub of hummus from the to-go refrigerator case because getting a seat inside was just not going to happen.

Then, Oren’s expanded with a second, larger location in downtown Mountain View, which made life so much easier. And just a few weeks ago, it opened a third Oren’s in the new Main Street Cupertino complex. Even better, more locations are planned in the Bay Area in the near future.

The sign behind the counter.

The sign behind the counter.

The burgeoning mini-empire of hummus eateries is the brainchild of Oren Dobronsky, a tech start-up specialist, who missed the hummus he used to enjoy in his native Tel Aviv. So he and his wife Nancy decided to make their own — by opening a restaurant.

Following the original eatery’s success, they joined forces with another South Bay couple, Mistie Cohen, who owns the EyeSpy Critiquing & Consulting company in San Jose that trains incognito diners to evaluate restaurants, and her husband David, a chef.

Many of the ingredients are imported from Israel, too.

I had a chance to check out the new Cupertino restaurant, when I was invited for “friends and family” night prior to its opening.

While the Palo Alto and Mountain View locations are pleasant looking, they pale in comparison to the Cupertino one. There is some serious bling here, what with a massive crystal chandelier, along with plenty of trendy reclaimed wood, and boutique-like, tufted blue-gray banquettes. Think Restoration Hardware rustic-chic. Yes, all this for a hummus place.

Fanciest humus place -- ever.

Fanciest humus place — ever.

The inviting dining room.

The inviting dining room.

The food is as good as ever. Plus, the menu has been expanded with some new items.

As always, right when you sit down, a small bowl of Israeli cabbage slaw comes to the table for noshing. It’s mild, not overpoweringly tart, and with good crunchiness.

Of course, you must order hummus. You. must.

One of the new offerings is a bowl of hummus topped with braised lamb shoulder and fresh mint ($12.50). It is dynamite. Tear off a piece of the warm, fluffy, house-made pita (white or wheat or gluten-free) and go to town, scooping up a big glob of the ever creamy and rich hummus along with the tender, fall-apart shreds of lamb. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will.

Complimentary slaw, and house-made hot sauces (the green one is hotter).

Complimentary slaw, and house-made hot sauces (the green one is hotter).

Comfort food -- couscous and chicken.

Comfort food — couscous and chicken.

My husband opted for the couscous ($12.50), a sizeable bowl of the semolina pearls heaped with chunks of chicken, carrots and potatoes. It’s a very homey dish.

I was in a grazing mood, so I ordered three sides ($11.95): the falafel, the new chunky eggplant, and the new “untraditional tabule.”

Oren’s makes some of the best falafel around, not as dense and dry as so many others, but moist and tender. The chunky eggplant is served cold. The eggplant pieces are stewed with sweet tomatoes and garlic, making it irresistible. It’s also great heated up the next day if you happen to take leftovers home like I did. The “untraditional tabule” has been California-ized with the additions of kale and corn kernels to the traditional bulgur, cucumbers and red onion. It’s a salad you want to take to every picnic and backyard barbecue gathering.

Stewed, chunky eggplant (front), and falafel balls (back).

Stewed, chunky eggplant (front), and falafel balls (back).

Tabule gets a California slant in this version.

Tabule gets a California slant in this version.

The Cupertino Oren’s also has a grab-and-go-section, this one on the side of the restaurant, which even features its own entrance. You’ll want to stop in. Because once you’ve eaten your hummus at the restaurant, you’re going to want to bring some more home for the next day. And the next day. And the one after that.

Because a most excellent hummus will do that to you.

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