Tag Archives: Israel

Osaka: Sushi heaven?

When Rosh Chodesh Adar rolls around, I start hankering for fish. I don’t know if this is really related to the cosmic alignments or not, but I go with the flow. And this year I not only had a tyvia for fish but for sushi in particular. Now, I grew up in California, LA to be specific, and well, we get some great sushi. The fish is so fresh and tasty, it is hard to compare anywhere short of Japan. Israel is a different story. For the most part the only locally available fish are fresh water or very small sea water fish. They pale in comparison to the fatty and rich deep water fish such as salmon and tuna. But, thanks to air shipping, we get some of these fish too.

When deciding on a sushi restaurant ,I immediately started looking beyond Modiin. Our local sushi spot leaves much to be desired, although they do deliver. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t want to make the trek up the hill to Jtown. So I asked around and the consensus that I got was, head for Raanana. Surprisingly there are quite the choices when it came to sushi in Raanana, but since we wanted to go out as a date I chose, supposedly, the nicer place, Osaka.

We were not disappointed at all. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but the owners have obviously spent some time and money dressing the inside up nicely. I am a sucker for a nice looking restaurant.  It took a while for us to delve through the three page menu plus additional specials. Mainly, because it is hard to establish how much sushi you need to order to get full and not over eat. I have a problem. If there is sushi before me, I can’t stop myself, I have to finish it. But Osaka’s specials were a great deal: one starter and a main plus dessert. We decided on one special with a main of sushi and some additional roll that weren’t on the specials menu but looked interesting never the less.

I was very excited to get our chicken tempura; however, when it arrived I was decidedly less so. They used ground chicken and added cumin to the mix. It was a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean gone wrong. But we stuck it out, waiting for our sushi. One thing about the restaurant is that you can see into the kitchen, which is great because I love seeing how many chefs and cooks there are, how they work etc. But the restaurant manager was nervous by my furtive glances and repeatedly came to assure us that the sushi is coming. Finally my husband explained that he just has a curious wife.

The sushi finally came, and it was delicious. The fish was fresh and really tender. The rice, which for me is one of the most important elements, was properly cooked and seasoned. Not out of the world great, but more than acceptable for Israeli standards. One comment I did have was that the rolls, especially the vegetable rolls, seemed to lack a little bit of rice. I would have like to seen them a bit more full. The tempura rolls were amazing and the nigiri was properly packed, so it was easy to dip and eat.

I was surprise how full I was after the sushi, and when dessert came, I could only take a couple of bites. The apple pie, which is made in-house, was delicious. I only wished I could have eaten more.

All around, Osaka is nice place to go out. There are plenty of sushi options and non sushi options for non-fish people. Nice surroundings and pleasant staff made this date a wonderful experience.

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Beer and Beef where can you go wrong?

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Video TLV wisely convened at the Dancing Camel last night. They understand that people are always more lively and interested when there is good alcohol about. I was excited to get out in the middle of the week to a nice evening of video trends and good brews, but the food pretty much blew me away.

Nestled in the heart of Tel Aviv in an old grain storage facility built in the 1930’s, the Dancing Camel is Israel’s first Micro brewery. Having met and the owner on numerous occasions, David Cohen, he consistently puts out superior products because he loves what he does. So when he started the new menu I was intrigued.  Between me and my husband we ordered a foot long and the Ibn Givrol sandwich (corn beef on gibbeta). When the food arrived, I had realized we order too much, the sandwiches were huge (we trying to diet although this was not our night for lower calorie consumption).

The hot dog was big and meaty, but I must admit  the corn beef over shadowed the hotdog and  was just a dream. First the bread was fresh and lightly toasted, you wouldn’t believe how many restaurants forget the bread is there not only as a place holder. The meat was lightly toasted making it melt in your mouth soft and there was a tantalizing smoky flavor permeating the meat.

After we had dived in to the food, the cook came up and asked us how we liked it. We of course gushed to him how great the food was. And his reply with a big smile on his face was “of course it is I made it myself.”  There was such pride in his statement, he knew he had put out good food and was happy that we were enjoying his work. I believe this kind of attitude stems from the David, who makes all of his products with a passion for greatness.  I had a wonderful night punctuated with great beer, food and atmosphere.

 

So close to Italy Yet so Far…

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After sojourning the American land of the beef and berries, coming back to Israel felt just great. Especially to have my givena levana, there is no real substitute. However, something started to feel lacking.

I have gotten over the fact Israel is not known for its beef, and cold weather vegetables and fruits are not going to be the same, but why in Israel is a good piece of pizza so hard to find. Israel is in the Mediterranean area, we have great tomatoes, olives, oil, and even better bread.

So why is the pizza so elusive? I was at the mall Saturday night, which in my opinion is pizza night, and I looked at my options: Sbaros and Home pizza. Sbaros looked like one huge piece of dough so I went with home pizza, which was not much better. I had them heat the pizza three times as long as normal so the crust would actually be a little crispy, the cheese was like plastic and sauce so tasteless as to be nonexistent. I feel that Israelis love lots of flavor and texture and pizza for the most part here lacks both. Why?

Therefore, for the next couple of post I’ll be trying out the best or possibly the worst pizza places in Israel.

Any suggestions just posts them below.

And the final word on Home pizza, stick with the falafel next door.

Jerusalem Beer Fest 2009: Festival “HaBira”

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If the wine festival is a cultured and sophisticated gathering of individuals, then the beer fest is glass full of debauchery cleverly misnamed. Despite being sick with strep throat, I managed to get out and join the crowds in the Holy city to have a great time. The music was great, the food was awesome, and although I didn’t get to drink (drinking and antibiotics dont go so well together) I did get to have doughnuts !!!!

The Venue

Located in the convenient and grassy (much better than the train station) Independence park, the festival was not too over crowded and well laid out, if it were a concert. The beer fest always seems less like a beer fest and more like one big concert with beer. Mostly because they dont have a set price for “all you can drink” beer just the regular prices that you can get at a bar so there doesnt seem to be any point. There were two sections

1. the main section where the band was playing and surrounded by beer stalls. The stall were woefully inadequate to supply the people with beer, and my husband was upset because they refused to sell him the tasters.

2. the food and craft section which was away from the speakers so you could actually hear yourself, but close enough that you could still hear the music. Score one for the Beer Fest

The Food

All the foodies are constantly talking about simple, and fresh food.  Well it seems that El gaucho really has been watching Gordon Ramsey, because they took their great restaurant to the street in a simple yet refreshing way. The menu was simple and all grilled in front the waiting patrons. The choices consisted of chicken, beef, burgers or chorizos. All served in a big fluffy white roll with chimi churry. Thats It. Seriously thats it. No complicated ordering or cooking and everything was super fresh, from the well grilled and tasty burgers to the soft bread and tangy sauce. Unlike the competition at the fest who all had deep fried food, El Gaucho really stood out by just being themselves, grilled meat on fire. and I appreciated that. 

Last but not least was desert, when was the last time anyone had real doughnuts in Israel. Well for me it has been a long time. And they were fresh, tasty, and not overly sweet. The doughnuts were made right in front of us with this clever contraption similar to the krispie kreme. Thank you Mister doughnut for a great doughnut.

The Music

I don’t think I need to say more than Pishutey HaAm rocked Jerusalem.

Here are some links of the show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DBt9I_gMyY&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6MhH90YsiM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvYMEOfCyUY

Finally the Beer:

I love the play on words with festival Habira: beer and the capitol, but the promoters may just want to rethink the whole beer aspect. The festival did feature over 30 beer labels  from all over the best of the beer world, there was definitely a lacking in smaller breweries, and speciality beers. In other words there wasn’t a single beer I could not have found in a bar within a 3 mile radius of the festival. Plus when we got there since the stall were so mobbed they would sell tasters, you just had to buy a whole ½ liter. How many ½ or ever 1/3 can anyone drink at a given time, which automatically means that the number of beers one will try will be low. Further one of the reasons people go the beer fest is to try different beers and to lay out for a whole ½ or 1/3 on a new beer does’t sound like a good idea. So we were very unadventurous and just went with Dancing camel which always puts out exceptional beers and we supported our local Israeli counterparts, not that I mind giving money to Guinness but I believe in supporting the  locals.

To sum up The beer fest had all the makings of a great party: Rockin music, tasty food and plentiful alcohol, I am just not so sure how “beery” the beer festival is…