Luxuriously good cuisine can start with simple, but quality, ingredients. Vish, a pareve, vegetarian eatery in Tenafly specializing in hummus, tahini shakes and falafel, has a surprisingly large variety of sweet and savory dishes. The bold tastes and textures bely their humble beginning from chick peas and sesame seeds. The dishes are all gluten free, except for the pita bread.
With a contemporary open kitchen, and airy, plant-filled seating area, Vish had a successful opening in March of 2020, just before the pandemic ended in-person dining. Owner Gilad Meushar kept going with take-out orders, and gained new fans with donated deliveries to front-line workers at area hospitals. Although it has been open just a short time, many Israeli customers were already familiar with the Vish concept: Vish is the American face of Hummus Eliyahu, a chain started by Eliyahu Shmueli, an Israeli hippy turned Breslov Hassid, turned entrepreneur, with over 60 locations throughout Israel. Now that in-person dining is back, Vish is re-introducing itself to people looking for kosher, healthy Mediterranean fare.
To maintain consistency, the staples at Vish, including the raw tahini and chick peas, are imported from Israel. The herbs, vegetables and fruits are all fresh from local sources. The chick peas for the hummus are ground to order and served warm, an unusual touch that adds a unique taste. The creamy hummus serves as a base for an assortment of toppings. Some examples: The Mashausha has schug (a Middle Eastern spicy condiment), garlic, cumin, sweet paprika, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. The Vishuka, a combo of hummus and shakshuka, has a poached egg, Moroccan sweet red pepper, spicy tomato sauce, olive oil and parsley. The Vish Sabich plate has hummus, eggplant, tahini, hard-boiled egg, cumin, sweet paprika, olive oil and parsley.
Tahini is the prime ingredient in 10 plant-based shakes with no sugar, MSG, preservatives or food coloring. Tahini shakes have the rich texture of yogurt smoothies but are completely pareve. Tahini shakes are nutritious, delicious meal replacements with many different and unusual combinations of grains, fruits and vegetables. I’m still thinking about the Memory Shake I sampled: tahini blended with banana, dates, cocoa beans, peanut butter, cashews and almond milk. The sweet and nutty flavors complemented the sesame base for a very refreshing and filling drink.
The falafel balls are cooked in an industrial-level air-fryer so they have a crisp outside and smooth inside. Take a bite and notice the green color from the preponderance of herbs. Order falafel balls in a hummus bowl or in a pita sandwich.
Speaking of pita, here’s the back story on the restaurant’s name. Vish means “to swipe” in Yiddish. You will want to take your freshly baked pita and swipe up some delicious hummus. All hummus orders are served with pita, olives, pickles, garlic, lemon sauce and schug.
Side dishes include salads and fries. Chef Willy also makes a rotating menu of soups from his own recipes. And for a finale, Vish has vegan coconut malabi, which has a consistency like pudding. On Fridays, the Vish grocery has items to purchase in half-pound, one-pound and two-pound sizes including hummus, tahini, fried eggplant, dips, pita bread, gluten-free laffa and halva.
Vish has a private upstairs loft-style party room that can seat up to 16 people comfortably. The room is available for birthdays parties, sheva brachot, bridal showers and business lunch meetings. Vish also does drop-off catering for events at home or shul.
In addition to co-owning Vish Tenafly, Meushar, who has a background in law and the food business, is overseeing the U.S. franchising market. There are Vish franchises in Surfside and Hollywood, Florida. Negotiations are in progress for new locations in Lakewood, Manhattan, Canada and Los Angeles.
Vish, 6-8 Washington Street, Tenafly, under the supervision of International Kosher Council, is open Sunday through Thursday from 11a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Order online at www.vish.rest and follow on Instagram @vish.rest.
By Bracha Schwartz