My debut article for Yeah That’s Kosher, features 24 New Kosher Restaurant Updates from Israel for Q1 2018. Click here to read the full article.
Look out for more updates in the months ahead.
My debut article for Yeah That’s Kosher, features 24 New Kosher Restaurant Updates from Israel for Q1 2018. Click here to read the full article.
Look out for more updates in the months ahead.
The Scala restaurant in The David Citadel Hotel recently re-opened, having been closed for the last two years. The restaurant is off the hotel lounge, on the fourth floor of the hotel and the décor is similar to the overall style of the hotel. The previous restaurant was a fine-dining concept but the new restaurant serves traditional, Jerusalem food using modern techniques. The hotel chef, Avi Turjeman, designed the menu to be simple and fresh, while offering authentic local food.
We started the meal with a small bowl of deliciously rich and flavorful meat and vegetable soup, which is a winter chef-special, complimentary to all diners. Next, we ordered the mezze appetizers which are NIS 48 per platter and one platter was more than enough for three of us. The beautifully presented platter, included Warm Lupin Beans with Black Cumin, Smoked Eggplant, Tabouleh, Creamy Hummus with Warm Chickpeas, Crushed Tomato Dip with Green Chili, Tahina, Amba, Schug and wonderfully crispy Green Falafel. My favorite part of the platter was the bread which was a light and fluffy, savory pancake-like flatbread with a similar texture to an English crumpet. The bread worked perfectly dipped in the various sauces and wrapped around the falafel.
For the main course, I chose Veal Schnitzel (NIS 75), one of my favorite dishes and hard to find in Jerusalem. It was a very generous portion and the dish was tasty, but I found the meat to be too thin, which meant that there was more coating than meat and the meat was slightly overcooked. I also prefer for a veal schnitzel to be served in one large piece, rather than several small pieces.
I tasted both the Aged Beef Entrecote Skewer (NIS 55 per skewer) and the Pargit Skewer (NIS 48) which were both good but the chicken was my favorite of all the mains. There is the option to order two skewers or to mix and match, but one skewer was enough for us, especially after the delicious starters.
All the main courses are served with a vegetable salad and a choice of side dishes, which include Wheat Freekeh and Lentil Majadara, Basmati Rice or Potato and Sweet Potato Fries. We tried one of each and the mixed fries were the winner, as they were well coated and we especially liked the purple potato variety.
We accompanied our meal with a glass of the house red wine, Teperberg Impression Cabernet Sauvignon (NIS 28/glass, NIS 110/bottle) which was light and fruity wine.
To finish the meal, we tried three of the four desserts on the menu, each cost NIS 35. My favorite was the Safra Semolina and Coconut Cake, covered in a warm spiced syrup and served with lemon sorbet. The cake was not overly sweet, despite the syrup, and the lemon sorbet, topped with lemon rind, provided a perfect sharpness to the dish.
The Fruit Salad was served with blanched almonds, mini meringues and topped with cassis sorbet. The sorbet was wonderfully smooth and flavorful and the meringues and almonds provided a crunch to the fruity dessert. Lastly, we had the Falooda ice cream with a marzipan and pistachio “cigar”. The Persian ice cream, made from glass noodles and rose sugar, was not to my taste, but the cigar, which was drizzled with a warm spiced honey, was delicious.
When tourists come to Jerusalem, they want to try local food and too many of the good restaurants in Jerusalem serve everything but Israeli food. It is refreshing to find a restaurant in a hotel that is finally giving tourists what they want. For Jerusalemites, it is also great to have a restaurant for special occasions that offers a three-course meat meal, with a glass of wine, for less than NIS 200/person.
Scala will be open for Pesach and the chef already has the menu planned. This year, the whole hotel will be Mehadrin for Pesach only.
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.
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).
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.
To read previous monthly roundups, click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Full details of all events can be found on the Open Restaurants website.
Before I lived next to Shuk Machane Yehuda, I used to occasionally buy some specialty foods there but the rest was pretty much a mystery to me. Having spent the last four years shopping regularly in the shuk, I have come to learn the ins and outs of where to shop for the best produce. Some of my favorite stalls are not always the cheapest but they either have the best produce and/or staff that I trust not to rip me off, so here is my guide to shopping in the shuk.
I discovered this place by accident but later found out that many of my friends, including two chefs, also get their meat there. Mizrachi has a great selection of meats, it is clean and Nissim is always friendly and very helpful. Don’t worry if you don’t know the Israeli number system for meat, just tell him what you plan to cook and he will give you the right cut of meat. He also recently started stocking antibiotic-free chicken and often has duck and other specialty products.
Insider Tip – open late on a Friday afternoon and closed on Sunday.
Mizrachi Butchers (Kosher), 13 HaCheruv Street (corner of HaTut), Nissim Mizrachi, 02 624 3939/050 785 4569.
You might be able to find cheaper fish in the shuk, but David Dagim is unbeatable on selection and quality so I personally prefer to pay a bit extra and know that I am getting the freshest fish. There is always a line of people from all over the city waiting to order and receive recommendations from the owners. They will prepare and pack the fish however you want it and they deliver.
Insider Tip – ask for sushi grade fish to make your own sushi. Closed on Sunday
The great thing about fruit in Israel is that you mostly get local fruit that is in season so you can be sure that it is fresh and usually well priced (here is a calendar of local produce). From my experience, the Yaffo end of the open shuk (Machane Yehuda Street) is the best place to buy fruit based on price and quality. There are some places in the closed shuk that have better quality but their prices are much higher. There is no particular place that I buy everything but between the various stalls on both sides of the street, I look around, compare the quality and prices and find what I need.
If you enter the Iraqi shuk from the main entrance in the middle of the open shuk, at the end of the first alley is a large vegetable store on the left. There is always a great selection of well-priced fresh vegetables. The store opposite can be cheaper but the selection and quality is not as good.
I buy my lettuce and fresh herbs from a small store further into the Iraqi shuk, opposite Argento (at the end of the first alley, turn right and the store is the second on the left). I will sometimes buy radishes, green beans and individual potatoes from the various stores further into the Iraqi shuk which all seem to specialize in a few specific types of vegetables.
There are so many spice stores in the shuk, it is mostly a matter of personal taste and for years I shopped at Pereg as they have a great selection of loose spices, as well as pre-packaged jars. But when Ras el Hanut opened a new store earlier in the year, I jumped ship. The store is not only large and well laid out, I find the quality to be very good, the staff incredibly helpful and the products well priced. They provide spice mixes for restaurants in the area like Hatzot, Jacko’s Street, Machneyuda, Rachmo and Pinati and will help put together your own spice mix on request.
As well as buying spices and some grains from them, I also like that they will grind nuts to order and you can request if you want a fine meal or chunky. They also have a great selection of dairy and parev chocolate buttons which are ideal for melting for chocolate desserts.
Ras el Hanut (Kosher), 72 Agripas Street, corner of HaArmonim Street, 02 641 1711, online orders and delivery available. All loose products are Badatz.
Most restaurants in Jerusalem get their bread supplied by Teller Bakery. Although there is a small stand in the shuk, the full selection of their breads is only available from their store. The majority of their bread is sourdough, except the focaccia and challot and if you get there early enough on a Friday, they do great whole grain challot. As well as some specialty flavored breads, they also make special rolls for making soup in a roll.
Favorite food – blueberry and walnut sourdough.
Insider Tip – all their bread and pastries are sold for half price at the end of each day at 18:45 and 30 minutes before closing on a Friday– but be warned, there is always a line and it is a literal “bun-fight”. The bread freezes very well, even when sliced.
Teller Bakery (Mehadrin), main bakery @74 Agripas Street with a stand in the shuk @Eliyahu Banai Street, corner of Etz HaChaim Street, 02 622 3227.
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 delicious coffee to sit and watch the world go by, take away and drink while you shop or freshly ground coffee to take home. There is also a selection of cakes and pastries to accompany your coffee.
Favorite food – Cortado coffee, ice-coffee and almond & raspberry tart.
Roasters (Kosher), 20 HaAfarsek Street, 054 671 0296.
One of the oldest and most famous delis in the shuk, Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu serves the best choice of take-away dips and salads in the city. They also have a great selection of fried foods like cigars, schnitzel and kubbe (meat or vegetarian). A great place for buying take-out food on a Friday but be ready to wait in line.
Favorite food – Moroccan cigars and spicy grated carrot salad.
Ma’adanei Tzidkiyahu (Kosher), 70 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 624 3322/ 054 694 9403, catering available.
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 in Israel. Not all the cheese in the store is kosher, so if that is an issue for you, make sure you ask to see the hechsher.
If you prefer a fully kosher shop, the dairy Tzidkiyahu deli (opposite the meat deli on Etz HaChaim Street) has a great choice of kosher cheeses including authentic kosher Parmigiano Reggiano.
Insider Tip – the staff at Basher are always happy to let you try before you buy but they are also good sales-men and will try to sell you more than you want.
Basher Fromagerie (No Hechsher), 53 Etz HaChaim Street, 02 625 7969, telephone orders available.
Although the shop is small, it is well stocked and has better prices than the other health stores in the area, with friendly and knowledgeable staff. I buy most of my grains by the weight here, such as oats, rice and quinoa, and unlike many other stores in the shuk, I have never had a problem finding bugs inside (although I always put them all in the freezer for 24 hours just to be safe). They have a great choice of chocolate, including some artisanal low sugar and dairy free options.
Favorite food – coconut water with pineapple and Holy Cacao chocolate bars.
Insider Tip – they sell 12 large organic eggs at a fixed price of NIS 19 and often have special offers on other items.
Hadasa Teva (Kosher), 2 Beit Yaakov Street (near the corner of Yaffo), 02 664 4332 – online orders and delivery available. Most products are Badatz.
Israel might not have its own Michelin restaurants but the American Express Round Tables Festival bring a taste of Michelin to Israel for the third time. A total of 60 chefs and restaurateurs from 14 restaurants worldwide will once again take part in the international culinary festival.
Each international restaurant pairs with a leading Israeli restaurant to serve a tasting menu featuring signature dishes of the guest chefs, with a local twist added by the Israeli hosts. Before the festival begins, the Israeli chefs spend a training period in the restaurants abroad and begin the preparations for the event.
Of the 14 international restaurants involved this year, two of them hold two Michelin stars, six hold one Michelin star and three have been listed as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Among the visiting chefs will be Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura of Maido in Peru, who is ranked number eight in the world and is the highest-ranking chef to ever participate in the festival. He will be cooking at Japanese Bistro Ya Pan in Tel Aviv.
L’Air du Temps from Belgium, led by the Korean-Belgian chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre, will bring its two Michelin stars to Pastel and 7132 Silver, located at a luxury spa hotel in the Swiss Alps (two Michelin stars) will join Chef Shahaf Shabtay in the Nithan Thai kitchen.
This year the festival includes a kosher restaurant where Mallorca’s Andreu Genestra Restaurant (one Michelin star) will partner with Dan Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon 99. For the first time, the festival is not restricted to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s Mona will host British restaurant The Elephant (one Michelin star).
The full festival runs October 29 – November 17 but the individual restaurant events last around five days each. Tickets range from 269 to 399 NIS per person for a five-course meal without drinks, with special offers for holders of Israeli American Express cards. Some of the events are already sold out so if you are interested in taking part, book your tickets soon.
All the information about the restaurants involved is on the festival website, https://www.roundtablestour.com/en/.
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.
La Padella, +972(0)2 624 2105, Kosher Mehadrin
Foodie score 7/10, FODMAP friendly score 7.5/10
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.
Jacko’s Street, +972 (0)2 581 7178, Kosher
Foodie score 9/10, FODMAP friendly score 8/10