Food notes: An homage to hummus in Gastown
Balila offers up hummus of every kind, including yam, beet and pesto
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Hummus is probably the most widely known and loved food to come out of the Middle East. It’s essentially chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil, but the variations have become more inventive as the Western world puts its take on the dip.
Balila (47 West Hastings) is an all-hummus eatery and features a variety of different options, like beet hummus, yam hummus and pesto hummus. It also offers some combos with cauliflower or lamb meatballs. Rice, fattoush and tabbouleh are also available in their cold fridge.
I picked up the original hummus with cauliflower ($8.50) and one with lamb meatballs (9.50). I also grabbed the house Balila Hummus and a fattoush salad. The hummus came with a couple large pita freshly made.
First up was the cauliflower roasted with tahini and spices. The ratio of hummus to cauliflower was notable and I had plenty of hummus leftover to scoop with pita. The cauliflower was best warmed up and the seasoning was peppery but not overpowering. I would have liked a slightly crispy cauliflower.
Up next was the hummus and lamb meatballs. Lamb is more gamey and pairs nicely with the lemon zip in the hummus. Once again, these balls are best heated up. The hummus is smooth and creamy, a little tahini forward and not overly garlicky, so you won’t garlic bomb your office afterwards.
I tried the Balila Hummus ($6.50) which had a walnut base, garlic, onions, red pepper, dill paste and a little spice. This hummus was left a little more chunky and the walnuts gave it a very different texture. I like this dip and I especially enjoyed the spice served with the soft pita.
Last I enjoyed the Fattoush salad ($7.50). This classic salad is simple with tomato, lettuce, onion, radish and a lot of parsley. After the garlic of the hummus and the lamb it was nice to enjoy a really fresh and bright salad, plus the parsley helps curb the garlic breath.
Balila is meant for eating in-house and taking away. It is a small space, but offers a communal table topped with olives and pickled onions free for anyone to try. It’s a nice touch.