Israeli-Turkish Grub at Hamifgash (it’s ok if you can’t pronounce it)
The pictures on the walls of Hamifgash caught my eye as I walked by recently, with promises of both Israeli and Turkish food and some intense giant pictures of shwarma. Unfortunately for me, it was Shabbot and the kosher restaurant was closed. I vowed to return on a less holy day. On my return trip, the waitress, who must have also been an owner, told me she was Israeli, while her husband is Turkish- explaining how the combo restaurant came about a few years ago. The menu leans more towards the Israeli influence, though the main courses of grilled meats are typical to Middle Eastern cuisine in general. A few Turkish appetizers are squeezed in there, but I wish there were more. I was hugely disappointed when I found out they no longer sell lahmacun (Turkish meat pizza). The waitress explained there was just no real customer interest. That is a real shame- so I urge all Philly lunchers to get down to Hamifgash and request for lahmacun- dough, meat, spices, what is not to like about that? Great lunching potential that we are missing out on.
But on to the food they do serve…
The Baba Ghannouj cold appetizer was a great start. It was perfectly creamy, with just a dash of lemon and garlic. Sometimes I find that baba can be made too smokey, that is not how I like it. There was no smokiness in Hamifgash’s baba. Go Team Baba Ghannouj!
To sample the Turkish dishes, I tried the cigarette bocreks and the imam bayildi. Imam bayildi from Hamifgash. Pronounce that sentence correctly and I will be impressed with you. Anyway, this is a roasted eggplant dish stuffed with onion, green peppers, and tomato- supposedly there were pine nuts in there but I didn’t get any, would have been nice though… Also, be prepared, this is one of their cold apps. For $7 it was a bit too small of a portion, but it makes a nice cooling and healthy start to a meal in the warm weather.
The cigarette bocreks are 4 fried tubes stuffed with meat and onion. Again, I enjoyed them but they end up being over a dollar per bocrek, and that is mighty price for a little bocrek.
I also ordered what was listed as “kibbosh” on the menu, but I am more familiar with them being called kibbe- either way, I recommend these meat/onion filled dough spheres over the cigarette bocreks, they seem more substantial (they come with 3) and I enjoyed their thick shell more than the phyllo of the bocreks. I took a gander at the borekas, and they looked worth trying on another visit.
I chose the Hamifgash kabob in pita ($7) for my main course. I was told the pita is made in house; it came out hot with perfect grill marks and just the right fluffiness. The sandwich is stuffed with lettuce, tomato, hummus, and the grilled ground lamb. I liked the way the lamb was spiced, but I was a little nervous about it looking undercooked in the middle.
Though over the $10 mark, it would be wrong not to mention my Turkish lunching partner’s beef kabob platter. For $12 he got a nice sized serving of supple beef chunks (I think it was skirt steak) over rice with a bit of salad. I don’t know how much of that beef gets put into the pita version, but that might be the lunch dish to get, the steak was impressive.
Hamifgash also offers a weekday lunch special for $12 with an entree special of the day and a soup. In their defense, while the appetizers were pricier than I liked – maintaining a kosher establishment can add a lot to to the overall costs of running a restaurant.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Excellent homemade staples, including the pita and baba ghannouj
- The restaurant is glatt kosher and has many vegetarian options
- I like a choice between Turkish and Israeli food
- The steak kebab meat is delicious
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Some of the appetizers are a little pricey for the size
- Pink ground meat makes me really nervous
Hamifgash, 811 Sansom St. (@ 8th St.), 215-925-3550