When I was in my twenties running around the East Village smoking more marijuana than I care to remember I ate more falafel than I care to remember. Had I known about the sabich, a lesser sung Israeli sandwich, I’d have added some variety to my midnight munchies. The combination of fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs sounds odd at first, but it’s actually quite good. I’m fortunate to be able to procure one at Grill House a tiny Israeli joint that’s a 5-minute walk from my house.
“I boil the egg fresh,” Rama Hababa, Grill House’s matriarch, says when I order the $6 sandwich. “You want raw onion? With sabich, you have to have raw onion.” Hababa knows Israeli food, so I ask her to make like they do back home She used to run Pereg, the wonderful spice shop in the Israeli section of Main Street in Flushing. The shop is now closed, but Hababa still uses the Israeli company’s spices.
Grill House’s sabich is a hefty sandwich. The combination of the hot ingredients: hard-boiled eggs, and tender fried eggplant with the cold ones: creamy hummus, nutty tahini, Israeli salad, and that crunchy, pungent raw onion is a Mediterranean marvel. Best of all, it’s laced with good olive oil and seasoned with plenty of minced fresh parsley. As I finish the last bit of hummus and tahini soaked pita, I think it might not be so bad being vegetarian. It takes the smell of Hababa preparing a Jerusalem mix, a trifecta of meats—chicken, lamb, and beef—sautéed with a heady mix of spices and onions to rouse me from my eggplant on egg reverie.
Grill House, 63-55 Wetherole St., Rego Park, 718-897-1575