Tag Archives: Tel Aviv

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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Hipo Felafel: Organic Felafel in Tel Aviv

soem of the best organic felafel in Tel Aviv

I am going to admit it here so we get thing all out in the open, I LOVE STREET FOOD. If you can buy it on the street and preferably on a stick I love it. Yes, I also love fancy, gourmet food that is lovingly prepared by qualified chefs, and homemade food is to die for. But there is something about street food that just gets me going.

In Israel the national (although this is contested by many Palestinians) food is falafel. Heck, they even use them as symbols for rank in the military. As part of my patriotic duty, I love falafel. So when my friend told me about a great organic falafel place on Ibn Gvirol, I just had to try it.

Wedged between a burgers spot and shwarmaa shop is Hipo Felafel. Not the name I would expect for a falafel, but this isn’t your normal falafel joint. Bright colors and long lines told me that this place is doing something right. As I’m waiting to order, I see all the homemade sauces and pickles and it is just making me hungrier.

At the counter, purely for research, I order both a falafel and a sabich (no I was not going to eat them both, my husband was in the car, do you know what it is like trying to find parking on Ibn Gvirol in the middle of the day)

Sabich is basically pita stuffed with fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs often served with techina and Amba. For this eggplant lover, it’s to die for. Despite the onions I put in it, my husband loved it too.

Now, I am not going to be so bold as to claim Hipo makes the best falafel in the country but they do live up to The Falafel Standards.

  1. Pita must be fresh:  I can’t stress this one enough; any falafel must be served in fresh pita. Stale pita is a mortal sin never to be done – ever. Thankfully both our pitas were fresh and delicious. Hipo has options for fabulously soft and hearty whole wheat pitas as well.
  2. Falafel must be crunchy: Made to order Hipo’s falafel balls were crunchy and tasty and without any MSG and did I mention – completely organic.
  3. Condiments must be ample: I will have to return to assure that my experience was not a one off, because I love a lot of techina with my falafel and I forgot to remind the person helping me to put extra techina, so I’ll forgive this time, but watch out for the next

All around Hipo seems like a great place to grab a quick and tasty bite to eat in the center of Tel Aviv. Although I do not exclusively eat organic food, I appreciate the option. I do believe that fewer the chemicals the better. As for cost, they are a bit pricey at 16 shekels a pop, but their quality is worth it.

So next time you’re hungry in Tel Aviv check out Hipo  Ibn Gvirol 64

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.

 

Coffee Shop Madness Part 3

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I will boldly go where many have gone before and many will after me, to perhaps the quintessential coffee scene in Israel, Tel Aviv. Being kosher sometimes as its down points, and in Tel Aviv it means a lot of the coffee shops are off limits. Thank G-d for Alternative. Its one of my favorite places to get a bite to eat and a cup of coffee. Located right next to Kikar Ha medina, with indoor and outdoor seating, Alternative is a stylish and warm places with ample space and always the right amount of staff. In a previous incarnation the restaurant was know as croissant, and still makes probably the best croissant I have ever tasted outside of france, so I always make sure to have one when I’m there.

The coffee is good but the food is great. Unfortunately the chef has trouble deciding what he wants to make, so their menu is miles long, which is never good. But I have never been disappointed by anything I have ordered. The Franchesca Salad is divine with brie cheese, nuts, fruit and baby greens. The sandwiches are big but not grotesque, and the leek soup I had was creamy and not too heavy. It has a great lunch menu where you can have a soup and salad with drink for a more than reasonable price, and  their desserts are out of this world. It is definitly worth making a trip to Tel Aviv just to go there.

All in all a great restaurant, just needs a little menu editing