Authentic Thai food in Downtown Haifa

There are two things that most young Israelis love – eating good food and traveling through Thailand, so I have always been surprised at the lack of authentic Thai food in Israel.

Luckily for those living in Haifa, Chang Ba is the real deal, no doubt thanks to its Thai sous-chef, Dam.

Chef Idan Lifshitz serves his favorite Thai street food and even grows some of his own herbs to make the dishes as authentic as possible. The restaurant was originally situated in a smaller location but moved last year to Hanamal Street in the popular downtown Haifa port area.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Chang Ba (Credit Avi Shumacher)

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A Japanese Gem in Jerusalem

JLM Sushi offers a genuine taste of the Orient

On a recent trip to the US, I realized how much I miss authentic, clean sushi. So many of the sushi restaurants in Israel have adapted their menus to Israeli tastes by incorporating ingredients like cream cheese and smoked salmon, which have no place on a real sushi menu. Although there are some good sushi restaurants around the country, Jerusalem has very few.

So it was refreshing to find a sushi restaurant that offers simple, clean sushi, where the focus is on the quality of the fish. Despite the name, JLM Sushi is more of a Japanese bar with a variety of Japanese dishes, including sushi.

Chef Yankale Turjeman, owner and chef of 1868, Zuta and now JLM Sushi, hosted us in this intimate new bar. With such a small kitchen on the premises, it is not possible for the chef to create a menu to the level he desires, so he uses the larger kitchen in his 1868 restaurant to prepare some of the dishes on the JLM menu.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

JLM Sushi Credit - sivan shuv-ami

JLM Sushi: Credit – Sivan Shuv-Ami

Gourmandises by Yoel brings French gourmet to Jerusalem

Gourmandises by Yoel in Kikar Hamusica is an authentic French bistro run by the Afriat family.

Livnatt and Yoel Afriat were opticians in Paris with a number of their own shops, but they knew they wanted to change their careers to something that would be more easily transferable to Israel. So Yoel gave up being an optician to become a pastry chef and spent a year at Le Notre, one of Paris’s most prestigious cooking schools. Then he started his own patisserie business, selling his creations from the family home in Paris.

A chance meeting with the owner of Kikar Hamusica at a party in Paris in 2014 led to the Afriat family’s making aliya and the opening of Gourmandises by Yoel just six months later. All the pastries, breads and beautiful desserts are made by Afriat and his team from their factory in Talpiot, while the food for the restaurant is prepared by chef Oscar Zuckerman in the kitchen below the restaurant. Livnatt manages the restaurant and the catering business, which caters events at the restaurant itself for up to 200 people but also provides parve or dairy dessert buffets for weddings and other special occasions.

Many people think that Gourmandises by Yoel is just a bakery or pastry shop, but the varied menu offers so much more, so we were delighted to be invited to sample the dinner menu. In keeping with the musical theme, many of the dishes on the menu are named after French musicians.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa

The small streets surrounding the Haifa port in the recently developed downtown Haifa area reminds me of many European cities, with bars and coffee shops spilling onto the cobbled streets and sidewalks. So it is very fitting that when you walk into Hanamal 24, the European theme continues, with the restaurant’s décor reminiscent of a rural Italian courtyard. Although the eatery seats 80 diners, the layout, with its numerous nooks and side rooms, creates an intimate space for all patrons, even on a busy night.

Hanamal 24 is the brainchild of restaurateur Guy Avital and chef Ran Rosh. Rosh trained in France and worked at a two-Michelin star restaurant before returning to Israel to start working with Avital. The menu is in the style of a traditional French bistro with Italian influences.

Avital recommended that we order the tasting menu (NIS 299) so we could try most of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Rosemary Grissini (Credit Avi Shumacher)

Cream of Onion Soup (Credit Avi Shumacher)


Foodie score 6/10, FODMAP friendly score 6/10

La Padella brings a taste of Europe to the Jerusalem Shuk

Breakfast and More Morning to Night

Street food options in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market are plentiful, with new places opening up all the time. But for those of us who sometimes prefer to sit in a proper café and enjoy an indulgent brunch, the options are more limited. Luckily, La Padella has changed that.

The restaurant has a diverse menu that includes more than 10 types of breakfast, as well as an interesting selection of sandwiches, salads, rich main courses and decadent desserts. Located in the space where Café Mizrachi once stood, La Padella has quickly become popular with both locals and groups touring the shuk (it can seat up to 25 people at a long table).

As with many places in the shuk, at night La Padella turns into a bar with a less than standard wine and cocktail menu and a well-stocked bar. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of Psagot White Seven (NIS 30/glass and NIS 95/bottle) with our meal but hope to go back soon to try the cocktails.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

French breakfast

Mac & Cheese

Cheesy Fries

La Padella, +972(0)2 624 2105, Kosher Mehadrin

Foodie score 7/10, FODMAP friendly score 7.5/10

Hotel Review: Ultimate Urban Style at Ultra

More and more boutique hotels are popping up all over Tel Aviv and each one offers something different to its guests. The new Ultra Hotel is in a prime location in central Tel Aviv, for those wanting to experience all that the White City has to offer. A short walk from the beach, the stylish urban hotel is a great option for a modern traveler with a lower budget.

The focus of the hotel is on the guests, captured perfectly in the hotel tagline “Ultra begins with U.” The great service I received certainly reflected this sentiment.

The intimate hotel reception and lounge area offers 24-hour complimentary tea and coffee with refreshments including fresh fruit, cakes, biscuits and an adorable selection of jelly sweets. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the option to use an electronic key system via a phone app.

Hotel patio – Credit: Assaf Pinchuk

While many of the urban rooms overlook the street, I was given a room that opened onto one of two beautiful shared patios. Although the rooms are fairly small, they are well equipped with complimentary water, an espresso machine and chocolates, as well as a lovely bathroom with a spacious walk-in shower.

The hotel is already popular with locals, as well as tourists and business travelers. It is not family-friendly, although there was a couple from Europe with a child while I was there.

One of the biggest draws for me was the Scandinavian cocktail bar, Botanika in the entrance to the hotel. The bar offers a great selection of cocktails and bar food at night and serves as a coffee shop during the day. Breakfast for hotel guests is also served in the bar, which is a unique setting for breakfast.

I found the buffet selection was more limited than many Israeli hotel breakfasts, but it included everything I needed for a good breakfast – hot coffee, perfectly cooked eggs and lovely breads that were incredibly tasty and fresh.

The hotel offers reduced-rate parking in the adjacent building and free entrance to the gym across the street. The stylish design of the hotel is all thanks to the general manager, Tomer Peleg, and his mother who sourced the furniture, fixtures and fittings from all over Europe.

Ultra is an ideal choice for those looking for a modern hotel in a central location. For more information: www.ultra-hotels.com and for booking rates, click here.

Ultra: Environmentally friendly, with a Scandinavian cocktail bar to boot. (Assaf Pinchuk)

Click here for the PDF of the article in The Jerusalem Post. The full article on The Jerusalem Post website is for subscribers only but it can be read by non-subscribers on a mobile device with this link.

Here is a full review of Botanka cocktail bar.

Jacko’s Street: A Winning Combination

Jacko’s has all the right ingredients for a memorable dining experience

If eating at a restaurant was just about the food, then I don’t think the restaurant industry would survive. A dining experience is not just about the food but rather the whole experience, including the service and the ambience. Many restaurants in Israel fail by not considering the experience they offer diners.

Jacko’s Street opened four years ago in Jerusalem and was the first kosher chef restaurant in the Mahaneh Yehuda market area. As the small streets around the shuk started to fill with more and more eating options, the popularity of Jacko’s also grew. In my opinion, the success of Jacko’s Street is due to its understanding that it is important to offer people more than just great food.

Click here for the full review in The Jerusalem Post

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Asado Credit Sivan Shuv Ami

Goose Liver Semolina Cake

Beef Fillet Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Beef Carpaccio Credit: Sivan Shuv Ami

Fish Bruschetta

Jacko’s Street, +972 (0)2 581 7178, Kosher

Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8/10

Shining a Light on the Jerusalem Art Scene

Although Jerusalem is not typically associated with a large art scene, there are numerous galleries around the city, and you have probably passed many of them without even realizing they were there.

Jenna Romano founded Contemporary Art in Jerusalem (CAIJ) to try to bring these hidden art gems to the fore and make the capital’s art scene more accessible, especially to those who do not live in that world.

Click here for the PDF of the full article in The Jerusalem Post.

The full article on The Jerusalem Post website is for subscribers only but it can be read by non-subscribers on a mobile device with this link.

Rosenbach Contemporary by Dor Kedmi`

Botanika cocktail bar brings Swedish style to Tel Aviv.

In the last few years, Israel has been hit by the cocktail craze, with cocktails bars opening up all over the country, with Tel Aviv at the epicenter. Although each bar varies slightly in its décor and style of drinks, many are located in boutique hotels and have a strong emphasis on the presentation of the drinks, sometimes to the detriment of the taste.

Both the beverage and the food menu at Botanika in Tel Aviv are simple and elegant, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and clean flavors with a subtle Scandinavian influence.

Click here for the full review  of Botanka in The Jerusalem Post

Botanika is located in the Ultra Hotel, for a full review of the hotel, click here.

Botanika (Credit Dana Caspi)

Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8.5/10

Seeing Jerusalem through the eyes of its visitors

I was fortunate enough to attend the Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) International conference in Jerusalem last week, which is pretty much a conference for professional travelers.

Many of the 400 attendees manage to make a living out of writing about their travels. The sessions I attended included tips on how to monetize your blog, appeal to sponsors and improve your content to generate more followers.

Click here for the PDF of the full article in The Jerusalem Post.

The full article on The Jerusalem Post website is for subscribers only but it can be read by non-subscribers on a mobile device with this link.

Uzi Eli Etrog Man(Credit Noam Moskowitz)

Uzi Eli Etrog Man(Credit Noam Moskowitz)