Update, Jan. 4: Little Sesame is opening its doors for lunch starting tomorrow.
Original post, Dec. 9: While consumers continue to gobble up store-bought hummus by the hundreds of millions of dollars a year, it was only inevitable we'd soon end up with our own permanent restaurant dedicated to the chickpea dip.
Enter -- open? -- Little Sesame, a new venture from DGS Delicatessen co-owner Nick Wiseman. The hummus shop is scheduled to open in January on the lower level of the Dupont Circle deli, in the restaurant's former private dining space.
Wiseman is launching the project with the support of his friend, Israeli-born chef Ronen Tenne. The two met during their time together at Michael White's Alto in New York. They'd go out for falafel after work, but Tenne said he was "always was a bit frustrated with the quality of the hummus in the States."
To make their ultimate hummus, Wiseman and Tenne are using organic chickpeas from Montana. They're importing their tahini (sesame paste) from Israel -- after tasting about 30. The recipe also includes water, lemon juice and "some other things we won't tell you," Tenne said.
Here are a few more tidbits to know about Little Sesame, scheduled to open in early January:
- Hummus is the main attraction. People tend to think of hummus as a condiment here, Wiseman said. Not so at Little Sesame, where it forms the basis of a meal ($9 to $12) that also will include a salad dressed with a sumac-honey dressing and warm pita. "It fills you up, it's simple, it's cheap," Tenne said of the shop's signature item. (We've seen this idea before: Remember the 2014 hummus pop-up in Georgetown?)
- Vegetables are king. The menu will feature one hummus bowl with a meat-based topping (the first will be chopped pastrami). The four or five others will feature vegetables, with initial offerings including beets, squash and fried cauliflower. "Center-of-the-plate vegetables are definitely a big thing now," Wiseman said.
- It won't be large. The space is about 600 square feet and will seat 16 people at communal tables. It will be a bit like "the hole in the wall kind of places" Tenne said are popular in Israel.
- The sesame isn't just for savory. Little Sesame will serve vanilla ice cream with tahini and sesame brittle ($5).
Little Sesame, 1306 18th St NW. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Opening Jan. 5. eatlittlesesame.com.