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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December Foodie Roundup

Much as I try, I am not able to keep track of all the culinary news around the country, so I apologize in advance to those who have complained that these roundups are too Jerusalem and Tel Aviv centric. I am happy to receive foodie updates for those who live in the north or south and, of course, due credit will be given.

Jerusalem 

The much anticipated Memphis Burger (Kosher) opened their Jerusalem branch on Agripas at the beginning of December. Their burgers are beautifully seared with a crust on the outside and juicy in the middle.  At NIS 55 for 250g, they are more expensive than others in the area, but the quality of the meat definitely makes it worth it.  I have not yet tried the sweet potato fries but the regular fries are nothing special at all – which seems to be an issue in many burger places.

In case you have missed all the rave reviews, Harvey’s Smokehouse (Kosher)  has opened in the city center, in place of Gabriel, by the same owner, Harvey Sandler.  The US style smokehouse serves various meat dishes including brisket, ribs and chicken. Signature dishes include popcorn chicken, Kansas style burnt ends and cherry wood smoked asado.

Azza 40 has reopened in the city center as R&R Diner (Not Kosher).  The menu still has some of the same dishes, with some new additions. Traditional American diner dishes include Mac n Cheese, BLT, Reuben sandwich, burgers, home fries, pancakes and apple pie, click here for the full menu.

My American friend was impressed by the Reuben which was semi-authentic. The corn-beef was thinly sliced but it lacked sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese. If you plan to go at the weekend, make sure to call ahead to reserve, as they are already busy.

Smadar (Dairy-no teudah) in Smadar Cinema is under new ownership and has a new Italian menu.  It is still open on Shabbat so is not kosher but the menu is dairy.  I haven’t tried it myself but a reliable source reported that the food is authentic and well made.

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Although the opening of the Gindi Fashion Mall in Tel Aviv has been far from successful, it has added a number of new restaurants to the area, including famed burger bar Susu & Sons, Asian noodle bar Zozobra, ice-cream and waffle bar La Gofre, Biga (Mehadrin) and Cafeteria. Ilan’s Café and Tatti Café are due to open soon, more information on all the restaurant options in the fall can be found here.  For now, they are offering three hours free parking (no validation required).

Cafeteria. is a European style coffee shop that has been nicely decorated with teal and pink velvet seats and brass fixtures.  The menu is very eclectic and in my opinion, is trying too hard to imitate an authentic European café.

My friends and I shared some very tasty Arancini (NIS 39) to start, and for the main course, I had Gnocchi with artichoke, asparagus, parmesan and sea bass (NIS 128) which was delicious.  One friend had the gnocchi without the fish (NIS 68) and another enjoyed the mushroom risotto (NIS 65).  We also shared a chocolate and salted caramel nemesis (NIS 38) for dessert, which was addictively good.  We all agreed that the food was very nice but the portions were not very big, compared to the price.  The service was temperamental but it seemed to be due to new and/or inexperienced staff. The full menu, including the business lunch option, can be found here (although it is not 100% accurate).

The Norman Hotel has opened Alena (Not Kosher) restaurant, a Mediterranean brasserie with a local influence, click here for a full menu.

Al Hamayim, Herzliya Pituach – the popular fish and sushi restaurant on Sharon Beach has become kosher.  The menu includes a variety of dairy and fish dishes, along with an extensive sushi selection, click here for the full menu.

Pasha Tel Aviv (Rehov HaArba’a) has closed down, which is a real shame as the food was always very reliable.

Coming Soon & Upcoming events

Liliyot (Kosher) restaurant has closed for renovations and will return with a new concept sometime in January.  I am not sure what it will be but I have been told it will be an exciting update.

Luis Angel, Leah and Yittie Stoffer plan to open a Mexican Taqueria called Tacos Luis (Kosher). Thanks to a Headstart campaign, they have raised over NIS 140, 000, so will soon be bringing authentic Wahacan street food to Jerusalem.

The Taste of Michelin returns to the David Intercontinental Hotel, January 8-14, 2018.  This year Aubergine restaurant will host Chef Daniel Corey of Luce from the InterContinental San Francisco.

Recent Posts

  1. A Japanese Gem in Jerusalem
  2. Debbest: Dining in Sarona
  3. Debbest: Quick Bites in Sarona Market

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

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

November Foodie Roundup

November has been a busy foodie month, especially in Jerusalem where we enjoyed a week of incredible events thanks to the Open Restaurants festival – I will follow up with a specific post on all the great events I attended.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in the Golan and Hula Valley this month, so I have included notes on some places I ate at during my trip.  I will post full reviews of each place during the coming weeks.

Jerusalem 

Gabriel (Kosher) will close on December 12, after 12 years in business. In its place, the owner and chef Harvey Sandler will open Harvey’s Smokehouse in order to appeal to a broader and younger clientele. Until it closes, Gabriel will serve a special menu featuring its most popular dishes over the last 12 years.

Villa Brown (Hashgacha Pratit) – the courtyard of this new boutique hotel is the perfect setting for a relaxing brunch.  The brunch includes a delicious basket of fresh bread and pastries, served with homemade jam, a selection of interesting fresh salads with unlimited refills, a choice of five main dishes, including shakshuka, omelet and green vegetable stew, as well as hot and cold drinks.  The food was all delicious and the service was efficient and attentive.

Valero (Kosher) – even though when it first opened, Valero was not kosher, it recently closed to update the kitchen and has reopened under kosher supervision. The menu was crafted by Chef Aviv Moshe and the restaurant is run by his childhood friends.

DKL Bar (Not Kosher) – the Machneyuda Group has opened a new private bar aimed at over 30s (yeah).  Entrance is only to members with a magnetic access card and each member is limited to one guest.  The fully stocked bar serves a variety of wine and cocktails, as well as a bar-snack menu. Private members clubs are popular abroad, I wonder if this will be the beginning of a new trend in Israel.

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Resto French Kitchen (Kosher) has opened opposite the Fashion Mall on Ha’Hashmonaim in Tel Aviv.  Another French import, traditional dishes include Duck Rillette, Goose Liver Terrine and Beef Tartar prepared tableside. The service was wonderful and the setting is comfortable but relaxed.

Tartare de Saumon RESTO sur Hahahamonaim 105, TLV

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Yogurt by Anita (Dairy no hechsher) –  Anita Gelato has opened a new frozen yogurt and granola bar at Shabazi 44, around the corner from the main Anita Gelato store. Special toppings include artisanal granola, goji berries and other superfoods.  For now, there is a choice of cow or sheep milk yogurt but they are planning to add a vegan option.

את ANITA YOGURT בשבזי 44 כבר ביקרתם?

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North

The Setai – Sea of Galilee (Kosher) is a new luxury hotel on the east side of the Kinneret, 5 km north of Ein Gev.  Similar to the Beresheet hotel in Mizpe Ramon, all the rooms are cabins overlooking the Kinneret, with either a private plunge pool or a jacuzzi.  The hotel also has an indoor and outdoor pool and private beach.  We enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the hotel lounge, overlooking the Kinneret, with attentive service and a serene setting. There is also a meat restaurant in the hotel.

Beit Haugot (Mehadrin) – even though it was not warm enough to sit in the wonderful garden of this country café, the service was still warm and friendly and the food was fresh and tasty.  We also had the pleasure of trying their fresh Sfinj which were delicious – full review from a previous visit here.

Gilabun Farm (Kosher) – we loved our dinner at this easy-going country restaurant in the middle of the Golan.  It was recommended to me by Fun Joel Tours and was the perfect option for us, driving back from the Hula Valley into the Golan. The log fire and attentive, friendly service accompanied a tasty meal in a great ranch house setting.

Gillis Steak House (Kosher) – I had the joy of returning to Gillis Steak House in Moshav Nov. It was even better than I remember.  An updated review will follow but for now, here is my previous review.

South

Moshe Segev (Kosher) – Chef Moshe Segev has opened his first kosher restaurant in Beesheva. The chef already owns numerous successful non-kosher restaurants including Segev Art, Segev Concept and Segev Express.  He is planning to open a second kosher restaurant in Netanya in a few months and possibly others in the future. The menu includes various meat and fish dishes – full menu on the website.

Upcoming Events

The A-sham Arab Food Festival will take place again this year in Haifa, December 13 -15, showcasing Arab food from the Levant. The director of the event is Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel who won Master Chef Israel in 2014. More information will be available on the festival website.

Recent Posts

  1. Gourmandises by Yoel brings French gourmet to Jerusalem
  2. Hanamal 24 is a European enclave in downtown Haifa
  3. Debbest: Kosher Sarona
  4. Debbest: Street Food in the Shuk
  5. Open Restaurants Returns to Jerusalem

 To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

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

Debbest: Street Food in the Shuk

Street food has been around for centuries but in the last few years it has become more popular the world over and Israel is no exception.  As the street food phenomenon has spread, new places have opened all over Israel but some of the best are in the Jerusalem shuk where you can now find a wide variety of interesting street food offerings including traditional dishes all over the world.

There are so many places to choose from but here are my top picks:

  1. Josef Burger

Even though other burger joints have opened in the area, Josef Burger is still my favorite. My preference is for the Angus Burger (NIS 45) which I find to be more tender and juicy than the house burger. They have a great choice of toppings and the service is normally quick and friendly. There is also a good business lunch deal for NIS 55 including a main, side dish and drink. My standard order is a medium Angus burger with goose breast and green salad and as a special treat I will get goose liver and/or chlli pineapple.

Josef Burger (Kosher), 123 Agripas Street, 073 758 4219 – English menu.

  1. Pasta Basta

The beauty of Pasta Basta is in the simplicity of the offering. First you choose your pasta, then a sauce and finally extra toppings, with the price starting at NIS 21.  The pasta is all freshly made on site and the sauces and toppings are equally fresh. My favorite choices are Gnocchi with butter and Parmesan sauce with extra zucchini (NIS 33) or Whole Wheat Fusilli with coconut curry sauce (NIS 24). They also serve soup, salad and wine from the barrel for NIS 16 a glass!

Pasta Basta (Hashgacha Pratit), 8 Hatut Street – English menu.

Keeping it simple #instafood #israelifoodie #streetfood @pastabasta_il #shuk

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  1. Dwiny Pita Bar

The concept at Dwiny is open or closed sandwiches so each dish can be ordered either inside a pillowy fresh pita, or on top of small toasted pita bruschetta style.  All the ingredients are fresh and interesting with fillings including seared entrecote, ossobuco, fried red mullet and crispy cauliflower.  My favorite dishes are the Entrecote pita (NIS 38) and the Lamb Siniya with tahina and pickled lemon (NIS 42).

Dwiny Pita Bar (Kosher), 6 Beit Ya’akov Street, 050 474 2428 – English menu.

  1. Fishenchips

As a Brit, nothing tastes quite like the real thing but Fishenchips is definitely the closest option I have had in Israel and it has already outlasted all its competition in the shuk.  The Mixed Crunchy Cod Goujons with chips (NIS 42) includes a mixture of batters and is probably the most popular dish but the Panko Red Tuna with chips (NIS 47) is also a delicious and interesting dish.

Fishenchips (Kosher- dairy/parev), 12 HaEgoz Street, 02 624 9503.

  1. Ishtabach

Since Ishtabach opened a few years ago, they have been so popular that they have already expanded twice, but they have managed to keep the intimacy of the service and atmosphere.  The specialty dish is Shamburak, a Kurdish Syrian pastry filled with meat and vegetables, baked in a stone oven and served with various homemade sauces and salads.  Fillings include Asian chicken (NIS 41), asado (NIS 45) and tongue (NIS 54) and there is also a vegetarian option and some salads on the menu.

Ishtabach (Mehadrin), 1 HaShikma Street, 02 623 2997 – English menu.

  1. Falafel Mullah

Everyone has their favorite falafel place, but my favorite is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you just want a snack, there is always the option for half a pita.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t. Falafel in pita is NIS 15 and in laffa is NIS 18.

Falafel Mullah (Kosher), 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov), 052 843 6476.

  1. Pizzeria Flora

Delicious authentic Italian pizza with a crispy base, doughy crust and high-quality ingredients.  Toppings include fresh mozzarella, Italian tomato sauce, rocket/arugula, parmesan, artichoke, egg and zucchini and prices start from NIS 44.  They also serve a great Blue Cheese Salad (NIS 33) with a tangy citrus vinaigrette.

Pizzeria Flora (Dairy – No Hechsher), 2 HaDekel Street, 02 622 2216.

זה החיים שלנו @preismansfoodphotography

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  1. Hatzot

This popular steakiah (meat grill) has a separate takeaway window along with street-side tables.  The extensive takeaway menu includes their famous Jerusalem mixed grill and my personal favorite, succulent pargit (NIS 54 in laffa), both with their secret spice mix. There is also a selection of salads and main courses in take-away containers, if you are extra hundry or don’t want bread.

Hatzot (Kosher), 121 Agripas Street, 073-7584204 – English menu.

  1. Jerusalem Steak House

For an authentic shawarma, Jerusalem Steak House is considered to be one of the best, with a good selection of fresh salads to go with it. Shawarma in pita is NIS 32 and in laffa is NIS 38 and they also do a half shawarma in either pita (NIS 18) or laffa (NIS 22).

Jerusalem Steak House (Mehadrin), 101 Agripas Street, 02 625 2745.

  1. HaChapuria

This popular Georgian bakery, specializes in Hachapuri, a selection of cheese filled breads.  My favorite is Acharuli (NIS 30 small, 35 large) which has a cracked egg on top, designed so you can break off the crispy crust and dip it into the cheese and egg center. They sell a variety of other Georgian pastries but the one with the egg on top is the most popular.

HaChapuria (Hashgacha Pratit) – 5 HaShikma Street (corner with HaEshkol).

Another place that deserves a special mention is is SushiYa, which is not technically in the shuk but is very close by and worth the extra walk.

The menu at SushiYa is limited and there is not much seating but the food is always incredibly fresh and well made.  The type of fish varies based on availability but they have all the standard sushi dishes and also serve a great poke bowl (and have done for years before they became so popular elsewhere).  The Fish bowl is NIS 35 and includes a mix of raw and cooked fish, with a selection of raw, cooked and pickled vegetables.  It is tasty, filling and great value.

SushiYa (Kosher) – 1 Trumpeldor Street (corner with Bezalel), 02 625 9055.

Fish bowl @sushiyabezalel. So tasty and filling #sushi #jerusalem #foodie #foodil

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There are so many other street food places that are worth visiting in the shuk, like Amster Bar for Dutch chips, Jachnun Bar for a Yemenite malawach, Argento for Argentinian empanadas or Pepito’s for arepas and Latin American sandwiches.

There are now also plenty of dessert options, including ice-cream at Mousseline, waffles at Soramelo, crepes at Sabayos or cinnamon buns at Urbun.

2014-01-08 22.13.07

Waffle at Soramelo

Click here to read more of Debbest.

Open Restaurants Returns to Jerusalem

The most exciting culinary festival of the year returns to Jerusalem, 14-18 November 2017. Open Restaurants Jerusalem will take place for a second year and this time there is a full English website, as well as some English tours. The festival includes over 80 unique culinary events combining food with art, culture and innovation.

The English speaking events will be a night tour of city with stops at La Boca, Piccolino, Mousseline and Crave; a children’s tour of Shuk Machane Yehuda; a food tour of the Old City; a culinary tour of Jerusalem, including Moroccan, Ethiopian, Indian and Mexican food; and a pre-shabbat Ashkenazi food tour of Mea Shearim.  Information on all these events can be found here.

Open Restaurants Jerusalem | Photo by Tomer Foltyn Photography

Among the kosher restaurants featured in the festival are Dwiny, Station 9, Argento, Kadosh, Anna, Angelica, Crave, Hamotzi and Eucalyptus (for all kosher events, click here). The non-kosher restaurants include Machneyuda, Adom, HaSadna, Yudale and Tali Friedman’s Atelier.

Prices for the events are from NIS 35-300 per person, but there are a number of talks that are free of charge but require advance booking.

Open Restaurants Jerusalem | Photo by Tomer Foltyn Photography

Here are my posts on Open Restaurants 2016 and the amazing cocktail workshop I attended at HaSadna – which they are repeating again this year and I highly recommend attending, full details here.

Asian Daiquiri @HaSadna

Full details of all events can be found on the Open Restaurants website.

 

 

October Foodie Roundup

As well as information about openings and closings, I have also included reviews of some newish places I have visited recently. There are also some great food and wine events coming up this month so make sure you read to the end.

Jerusalem 

Pergamon Restaurant – a new vegetarian restaurant on Horkanos in Jerusalem. The food is Mediterranean style and they also serve cocktails with a focus on Gin and Tonics.

Azza 40 closed down on Azza and will soon reopen as R&R Diner at 33 Yafo in the city center. It will be interesting to see if the style is the same and I wonder what will open on Azza instead. Any ideas?

Tel Aviv & Merkaz

Resto French Kitchen (Kosher) has just opened next to the Fashion Mall on Ha’Hashmonaim in Tel Aviv.  Another French import, dishes include Salmon Tartar, Beef Tartar, Beef Bourguignon and Tarte Tatin.

Bar B Que (Kosher) is a new restaurant in Herzliya Pituach which is a great option for groups to share lots of dishes and platters. Our favorites were the chicken wings, Asado and the smoked pulled beef. Will definitely go back and try the burgers, here is the full menu. The service was efficient and friendly and there is spacious seating.

L’Aile ou la Cuisse (Kosher) in Tel Aviv is the sister of one with the same name in central Paris, with the exact same menu (full menu here). There are a few dishes that they are not always available (like Foie Gras Terrine and Veal Shnitzel) but otherwise, the menu is that of a typical French Rotisserie and we loved everything we had. The restaurant is well designed with a relaxed atmosphere and you can see into the kitchen to watch the chef perform his magic. The service was efficient and friendly and we all loved our food and the experience in general. They also have a business lunch from NIS 59.

Kitchen By Greg (Mehadrin) Sarona, Tel Aviv – although this place is not fancy, it is the only kosher meat cafe in Sarona (not including fast-food stands in the market). The menu is varied, it is well priced and the setting is peaceful. I enjoyed a business lunch with a colleague, which includes a free starter (from a limited selection) for the price of a main course.  I had the Vegetable Antipasti, followed by the Country-style Salad with Chicken (NIS 52) which was fresh and tasty. My colleague had a rich Bean Soup and the Asian-style Salad (NIS 48), which she found filling and well cooked.  Kitchen By Greg is a great place for a comfortable lunch or light dinner, here is a link to the full menu.

Taj Indian Restaurant (Kosher) Or Akiva – for those looking for a kosher Indian experience, this small restaurant near Caesaria seems to be a good option.  Click here for a full review in the Jerusalem Post.

Night Cookie (Dairy – No Hechsher) – Tel Aviv has a new late-night food delivery service, specializing in cookies fresh from the oven. Deliveries are Wednesday to Saturday 21:00-02:00 and include traditional cookie flavors, as well as more interesting Toffee Caramel and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate and Chili, as well as three vegan flavors. Cookies are NIS 8.50 each and delivery is free with a minimum order of NIS 30.

Upcoming Foodie Events

Round Tables by American Express, October 31- November 17, 2017. There are still tickets available for some of the events – more information here.

Mateh Yehudah Wine Festival, November 2-25, 2017. Special events will take place in various wineries all over the area every weekend in November, but the main event is the opening at Yad Hashmona Hotel.

Open Restaurants Jerusalem, November 14-18, 2017. This year the festival comprises 80 events, including some English food tours – more information here.

In other news

Asian American food blogger Mark Wiens of Migrationology documented his foodie tours of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Bethlehem, Ramla and Nazareth. The narration style is slightly over-enthusiastic (he reminds me of a cartoon character but I cannot work out which one) and everything he tries is “wow” but it interesting to see which places are included in these documentaries and there is a list of all the venues in the description section below each video so you don’t have to watch them.

October Posts

  1. Debbest: Tasting Tour of the Shuk
  2. Debbest: Shopping in the Shuk
  3. Debbest: Top Ten Kosher Restaurants in Israel
  4. Succot in the Holy City – 2017

To read previous monthly roundups, click here.

Debbest: Tasting Tour of the Shuk

Although I am not a tour guide, I love showing visiting friends and family around the shuk area and sharing all its hidden treats. The following is a list of my top ten things to eat in and around Shuk Machane Yehuda.  It is too hard to list it in order of favorite, so instead, I have created a self-guided food tour of the shuk.

I learned recently that the shuk officially includes the row of shops which start on the corner of Agripas Street and Ki’ach Street so that is a great place to start (click here for a map).

  1. Potato Bureka @Burekas Ramla (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Like many traditional local foods, you will never get everyone to agree on their favorite version, but for me, these are without a doubt the best burekas I have ever tried.  Unlike the burekas you find in most bakeries around Israel that are made from puff pastry and come in different shapes, these Turkish burekas are made from filo pastry and all have a standard large sausage shape.   The tiny stall on this busy corner is an off-shoot of a bakery in Ramla and has a simple choice of potato, cheese or spinach.  The crunchy burekas can be eaten alone but I would recommend having it cut open and lined with hard-boiled egg, schug and tahina, for the ultimate comfort food delight.  My favorite is the Potato Bureka, but they are all delicious and are large enough to be a full meal.

Conveniently next door is my favorite juice bar in the city and trust me I have tried them all. Don’t be confused by the addresses, many of these places are tiny stalls which are part of the same building and this place is also very badly signed.

  1. Carrot & Ginger Juice or a Fresh Fruit Smoothie @Schutim (Kosher) – 44 Agripas Street

Don’t let looks fool you, this shop might be small but they have a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables and the prices are much better than the juice places further inside the market.  I normally go for a spicy carrot and ginger juice or a fresh fruit smoothie.  The guys who own it are also really friendly and you will always get service with a smile!

Walk down two stores for the next stop.

  1. Chocolate Rogelach @Marzipan Bakery (Badatz) – 44 Agripas Street

Famous the world over for making the best chocolate rogelach, this Marzipan Bakery is always full of locals and tourists filling boxes of rogelach as soon as they come out the oven.  Although the bakery sells many other delicious goodies, including other flavors of rogelach, the original chocolate are the most popular.  The secret ingredient is the sticky sugar syrup that is poured over them as they come out the oven and this also helps them last longer. Not only do they freeze really well, they are also really tasty straight from the freezer.   Pick up a few as a snack as you walk around the shuk or save them for later.

Walk along the street and take a right into the covered shuk to the second store on the left.

  1. Moroccan Cigars and Spicy Carrot Salad @Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher) – 70 Etz HaChaim Street

One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the crispiest Moroccan cigars and the best selection of take-away dips and salads in the city.  My personal choices are the Spicy Grated Carrot Salad and the Sweet Eggplant and Peanut Salad. I am also partial to their Schnitzel and Kubbe (meat or vegetarian).  A great place for buying takeout food on a Friday but be prepared to wait in line.

There is also a dairy deli diagonally opposite with a great selection of cheeses and there are other branches around the city.

Continue into the shuk, two doors up on the right.

  1. Sumac & Za’atar @Pereg Spices (Badatz) – 79 Etz HaChaim Street

The secret ingredient in many authentic middle-eastern dishes is usually the mix of spices so when tourists ask me for recommendations of things to take home with them, I normally suggest Sumac and Za’atar. Sumac is a wonderful slightly sour burgundy colored spice that can be used to season salads (especially Fattoush), grilled fish and meats. Za’atar is a mix of herbs and spices that typically includes ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, together with sesame seeds and sumac but can vary.  It can be sprinkled on white cheese, salads or used as a dip for bread.

Although the shuk is full of great spice shops, Pereg sells a particularly diverse selection and their pre-packaged jars travel well.  Other recommended products include shawarma spice, Sumsumiya (sesame, nut and honey spread) and a variety of rice seasoning mixes.

The next stop is diagonally opposite on the left.

  1. Coffee Halva & Chocolate Tahina @Halva Kingdom (Badatz) – 46 Etz HaChaim Street

Not many places in the shuk offer free tasters but Halva Kingdom always has someone standing outside their stores (there is a second one further inside the shuk) offering small squares of their Coffee Halva.  Tasting a sample is not an obligation to enter the store, they are used to passersby grabbing a morsel for a quick sugar fix.  The store has a selection of around 100 flavors of halva and they will normally let you try before you buy.  My personal favorites are the coffee and Belgian chocolate flavors and they just started selling pre-sealed jars so it can be easily transported.

They also sell various savory and sweet flavored tahina – the chocolate tahina is delicious and makes a healthy alternative to chocolate spread. I regularly take the halva and tahina as gifts for friends when I travel but make sure you pack it well so it doesn’t crack and leak all over your case (yes that happened!).

  1. Stinky Cheese @Basher Fromagerie – 53 Etz HaChaim Street

If cheese is your thing, then look no further than Basher Fromagerie for the best selection of cheeses in the country.  The Basher brothers are the main cheese importers in Israel and they stock cheese from all over the world that cannot be found in many places.  The friendly staff are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and always try to give you more than you want.  Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue, make sure you check.

Keep to the left side to the corner of Etz HaChaim and Ha’Afersek Street.

  1. Cortado Coffee @Roasters (Kosher) – 20 HaAfarsek Street

Coffee lovers will be glad to know that one of the best coffee shops in the city is in the middle of the shuk.  Roasters offers the traditional selection of coffees as well as some more unusual ones, like the Spanish Cortado, which is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of warm milk to dilute the acidity but still remaining a strong short coffee.  Summer specials include cold brew coffee and Affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso). There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee or freshly ground coffee to take home.

Cortado and cake @roasterscoffebar #foodieisrael #shuk #coffee

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Walk to the end of HaAfarsek, turn right onto Machane Yehuda Street (the open shuk).  Keep to the left and take the last turning on the left, HaTut Street, before you reach Agripas (ReBar will be on the left corner).  Walk straight ahead to the end of that street and the next stop will be facing you on the right.

  1. Rambam’s Milk @Uzi Eli Etrog Man (Kosher) – 10 HaEgoz Street

One of the more famous stands in the shuk is Uzi Eli – the Etrog Man.  Uzi is a Yemenite healer who sells various Etrog based products to cure aches and pains.  The shop also sells a variety of freshly made juices including Etrog Gat for energy and apple with ginger for a sore throat.  My favorite choice is the Rambam drink which is almond milk with dates and other goodies.  They will always let you try before you buy or you can go for a taster shot of each one for only five shekels each.

Head back out to Agripas Street and turn right heading down the hill.  Continue down crossing over 2 side street until you reach the third side street, Beit Yaakov.

  1. Falafel @Falafel Mullah (Kosher) – 82 Agripas Street (corner of Beit Yaacov)

A visit to the shuk wouldn’t be the same without falafel and the best store to get from is Falafel Mullah. As soon as you approach the stall, the friendly staff will offer a fresh falafel to taste and if you are already too full from all the grazing along the way, there is always the option for half a pitta.  Although some argue that Falafel HaAchim Levi at the entrance to the open shuk is better, I prefer Mullah and it is located on a quieter corner and you can sit and enjoy your falafel in peace.  The falafel is Gluten Free but the bread isn’t.

That concludes my tasting tour of the shuk.  I hope you found the information helpful and please let me know if you want any other information about eating around the shuk.

For more information about shops in the shuk – take a look at the official shuk website (although it is very out of date!) and a helpful map of the shuk by tour guide Fun Joel.

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Debbest: Top Ten Kosher Restaurants in Israel

People are always asking me for my top ten favorites and I do believe there is no definitive list as it depends on occasion, age, style of food and of course, most importantly, personal taste. Having said that I do like lists so why not write my own!

I have started with a list of my favorite  kosher restaurants in Israel, as that seems to be the most requested and will move onto other categories in the next few months.  This list is based purely on my personal experience and I have eaten at all of these places as a paying guest.  The menu in some places varies seasonally so I have tried to recommend dishes that are consistently on the menu or a similar variation of the same dish.  There is a carnivorous focus to my suggestions as that is my personal preference when eating out but I have included the link to a full review, if available, so you can find more suggestions.

  1. Jacko’s Street, Jerusalem

It will be no surprise to anybody that knows me personally or follows this blog that Jacko’s Street is my favorite restaurant in Israel (not just kosher ones) and will always be top on my list of recommendations. It is my go-to place for taking out-of-town guests and even those who don’t eat kosher are impressed by the creativity of the menu and energetic atmosphere in the restaurant – it epitomizes the expression “fun-dining”.

The menu is a Middle Eastern fusion, with many dishes offering an elevated version of traditional home-style recipe. My favorite starters are the Asado Bruschetta or the Red Tuna Fricasse and for mains, I normally order the Gourmet Burger, the Charred Steak or the Prime Rib, if I have a willing partner to share. After 9 pm the music is lively so if that is not what you are looking for, either go early or find somewhere else.

Jacko’s Street, Agripas 74, Jerusalem 02 581 7178 – full review here.

It's all about the meat

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  1. La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem

For those looking for truly creative kosher dining, the tasting menu at La Regence is a unique experience.  As you would expect from The King David Hotel, the service is efficient and attentive.

The style of the menu is European with an Israeli twist. Signature dishes include the Tomato Leather filled with Sea Fish Salad and the Chicken Consommé to start, Roasted Duck confit with Black Garlic for main and the Chocolate & Olive Oil is an extraordinary dessert. At a cost of 380 NIS per guest, it is definitely a special occasion option for most people and it is a very formal, old-school hotel style restaurant. There is also the option to order from the regular menu.

La Regence, King David Hotel, Jerusalem, 02 620 8795- full review here.

Tomato “leather” filled with sea fish salad

  1. Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem

For the ultimate “Jerusalem” setting, Rooftop RestaurantMamilla Hotel is a must.  The view over the Old City is incomparable and the menu is always fresh and interesting with mostly Mediterranean dishes with a Middle Eastern influence.

I love the Iron-Rich Herb Salad, Duck in a Blanket and Grouper Shawarma starters. For main I cannot resist the Entrecote as it is one of my favorites in Jerusalem, but the Lamb Chops and the Bass are also great dishes. The service is slightly hit or miss but the view and quality of the food make it worthwhile.

Rooftop, Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem, 02 548 2230 – full review here.

  1. Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Herzliya Pituach

I have been fortunate to eat in Herbert Samuel in the Ritz Carlton Herzliya on a number of occasions.  There can be issues with consistency and service but my overall experience has been very positive.

I tend to start with a light raw dish like the Red Tuna Crudo or Beef Tartare.  The Tomato Salad is the Herbert Samuel signature dish and very popular.  If you are dining with a fellow carnivore then I recommend ordering the Beef Chateau or the Prime Rib as they are both great options for a minimum of 2 diners. I have often been with non-meat eaters who have been very happy with their fish main course. All the chocolate related desserts are always incredible and worth saving room for. There is also a very impressive wine menu and the wine fridges line the length of the restaurant.

Herbert Samuel, Ritz Carlton Herzliya, Herzliya Pituach, 073 203 7596.

  1. Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv

Yet another hotel restaurant, but the rooftop setting overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline and shoreline is spectacular, even in the winter.  Chef Meir Adoni is an incredibly creative chef who experiments with unusual flavor and texture combinations.

The menu changes regularly and the dishes I had are no longer on there but we all enjoyed everything we ordered. The menu is now entirely fish dishes and has more of an Asian twist than I remember, and I really don’t like his sister restaurant Lumina since it became some weird fusion, so I hope Blue Sky is still as good as it once was.

Blue Sky by Meir Adoni, Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel, 03 520 1830.

  1. Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov

Although Gillis is not a real restaurant, the food is so good it still qualifies for this list.  Gillis Steak House is only open on a Thursday night, the rest of the time it is a cattle farm and butcher.

The menu is simple – meat! Some dishes can be ordered individually, including a token chicken dish but for real carnivores, the tasting menus are the way to go.  There are various options depending on how much meat you want to receive, but it is all unbelievably delicious so I recommend going all out and getting the Just Beef tasting menu at NIS 238 per person.

The most unique aspect about the place is that the cooks are actually the farm workers, who just know how to cook the meat well and honor its true flavor – there are no special sauces or fancy plating, just delicious well-cooked high quality beef.  The service is incredibly warm and the Gillis family personally host all their guests.

Gillis Steak House, Moshav Nov, Golan, 04 676 3555 – full review here.

  1. Muza Bahar, Shoresh

Day or night, Muza Bahar is a scenic way to enjoy a very good meal. The Duck Fillet is a clear winner in the starters.  The duck is well cooked and it is served with caramelized apples and a Calvados foam, which perfectly complement the flavors of the duck.

For main I normally order the Cote de Boeuf (500g Rib Eye) which is a serious piece of meat but it is well aged and the bone marrow accompaniment makes it even more indulgent. The Trio of Mini Burgers are also very interesting and the Salmon Fillet is a great alternative for non-meat eaters.

The desserts are all beautifully presented but the Deconstructed Lemon Pie was the most interesting and least parev tasting of them all.

Muza Bahar, Shoresh, 02 624 6897 – full review here.

Muza Bahar. (photo credit:PR)

  1. Roberg, Moshav Livnim

I have not been back to Roberg for quite some time but previous visits were so consistent that I still believe it deserves its place on this list. The restaurant is the top floor of the family home in a Moshav overlooking the Kinneret so if you have a chance to go during daylight, I highly recommend doing so.

The menu is fixed price at NIS 150 for four courses or NIS 180 for five and both options include a selection of starters and mains to choose from.  There is a warm friendly atmosphere and service is always with a smile.   As well as the plethora of delicious salads that accompany the tasting menu, you can also ask for refills if you want more of a specific protein dish. There is no specific dish to recommend, it is more the entire dining experience that keeps people coming back for more.

Roberg, Moshav Livnim, 04 671 5656.

  1. Minato, Herzliya Pituach

Possibly one of the best sushi restaurants in Israel, the quality of the ingredients and the precise of the preparation is what distinguishes Minato from most sushi places in Israel. The menu also includes some delicious cooked dishes like Agedashi Tofu, Katsu Chicken and Minato Yakiniku (entrecote with a mild mirin sauce).

The design of the restaurant and the dishes used are beautiful and add to the dining experience. The only downside is that the restaurant is on the small side so space is limited.

Minato,  Ha’menofim 8, Herzliya Pituach, 09 773 1703.

  1. Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv

I debated whether to include Whiskey Bar in this list as the food and service were not perfect both times I was there (hence number 10) but the setting and concept are so unique that I believe it deserves to be included and it is also much better than many of the other kosher meat restaurants in Tel Aviv.

It is located in the basement of a Templar building in Sarona, with walls lined with over 1000 types of whiskey, but it is still enjoyable for non-whiskey drinkers like myself.

The Beef Carpaccio and Liver Pate are tasty starters and the Prime Rib and Lamb Chops are succulent mains. The chocolate mousse with smoked whiskey is a shining favorite for everyone.

Whiskey Bar & Museum, Sarona Tel Aviv, 03 955 1105.

Some other favorites that didn’t quite make the list are 1868 in Jerusalem,  Oratorio in the Elma Hotel in Zichron and the restaurants in the Beresheet and Cramim hotels.  Although I find hotel restaurants often lack atmosphere, the fact that they cater to tourists often means the standard of food and service are better.

I should mention that I have not eaten at either Cà Phê Hanoi or Olive Leaf in Tel Aviv but both are meant to be great kosher restaurants. I would love to hear what other top ten lists you want to see and what your top kosher restaurants are.

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