I thought I missed hummus. By which I mean: I missed being able to pick up a tub at the supermarket. But to hear an Israeli acquaintance talk of it is to learn that there is so much more to miss.

"Eating hummus reminds me of so many things, like sitting with friends in a village near the kibbutz where I lived, sharing pita and a plate of hummus drowned in olive oil. I love the taste, of course, but also the communal aspect of eating it," he said.

To get that communal atmosphere (and good food) in Tokyo, he recommended Shamaim (2F TM Bldg., 4-11 Ekoda, Toshima-ku, Tokyo; 03-3948-5333). In addition to being the capital's longest running Israeli restaurant, Shamaim is also a fantastic deal: The all-you-can-eat dinner course is just ¥2,100 per person. First come the various starters: hummus and pita, falafel (deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas) and tahini (sesame paste), and chopped salads. These are followed by chicken schnitzel (breaded and fried chicken breast) and lamb kebab (minced meat grilled on a skewer), fried potatoes and majadra (rice with lentils), and then seconds and thirds as you like. Dessert such as malabi (sweet milk pudding) is extra.