Constant Craving for the Far East
BY Lee Saunders DATE 26/03/2018
Israel’s Taste for the Far East
In the Jewish calendar, this year is 5778. According to the Chinese calendar, this year – the Year of the Dog – is 4716. That means for 1,062 years, the Jews went without Chinese food.
For a long time, the only Asian food Israelis knew was Chinese, but in Israel today, all kinds of Asian restaurants—either regional or pan-Asian—are now serving up the delights of the Far East.
Here, we explore some of our favorite Tel Aviv restaurants serving up an abundance of sensational dishes.
The enduring affair with Chinese food
Taking pole position for some time has been Chinese food – its popularity owing a lot to the new twist on familiar tastes: chicken and beef dishes, with cooked vegetables that can more easily comply with kosher food laws, a vital ingredient for observant Jews.
One of the city’s favorite hotspots is The Bun, close to the entrance of Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. A specialist in steam buns, the freshly cooked sea bass with a helping of spicy noodles is a must!
Hong Kong Dim Sum is a popular and authentic Hong Kong experience offering a range of dim sum platters and soups packed with noodles, vegetables and a range of fresh dumplings. This institution on Ben Yehuda Street doesn’t leave you waiting long and will leave you licking your lips in satisfaction.
Further down the same street is Furama, whose sizeable portions and lively atmosphere make this a popular stopping point after a walk along the nearby beach. Don’t forget to try to succulent chicken dishes, the miso soups and the range of vegetarian options.
Both of these venues are a stone’s throw from the Dan Tel Aviv and Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, which welcome Chinese dignitaries, celebrities and tourists throughout the year, and offer specially tailored Chinese menus and breakfasts, for Chinese the growing number of Chinese guests now visiting Israel.
The gateway to Japanese cuisine
While the lofty reputation of Chinese food has remained steady, other cuisines have soared. Japanese sushi dishes have long moved beyond the status symbol of the 1990s to affordable chains and luxurious restaurants.
Today, Tel Aviv is the gateway to Japanese food, with some of the best sushi restaurants around. Among them is Moon Sushi, a chic and elegant restaurant on Borgrashov Street that provides delightful and high-quality sushi from an extensive menu of innovative dishes. These include colorful maki dishes – sushi and raw vegetables, wrapped in seaweed – such as the blue elephant, spicy tuna and rainbow maki.
Located in the Basel area and Sarona Market, the popularity of Ze Sushi lies as much with its affordable menu and vibrant atmosphere as it does its variety of tasty combinations of sushi platters, ramen, bahns (dumplings) and noodles.
The high standards of service and quality of ingredients ensure that one of Tel Aviv’s oldest restaurants, Onami is always worth a visit. A modern and sophisticated vibe and excellent presentation make this flagship restaurant on Ha’Arbaa Street one of the destinations of choice for sumptuous fish dishes, Japanese drinks and cocktails.
The endless menu of Ya-Pan, a historic bistro on Nachmani Street, brings Japanese street food to life, with firm favorites classical katsu curry and tempura, a dish – popularized by Japan – comprising vegetables or seafood that have been battered and deep fried.
Thai red and green Curries find home in the White City
If your backpack and taste buds have set foot in Thailand, then authentic hot and spicy Thai curries stay with you long after the trip. In Tel Aviv, there has been a rising number of superb Thai restaurants that bring back the heat.
The place to go for many years has been the Thai House, which has mastered the Thai menu, setting a gold standard. Situated on Ben Yehuda/Borgrashov Street, this well-known institution offers a menu that allows you to enjoy mild curries or crank up the spices. Their range of excellent green curries – including with eggplant – are a must, as is the tapioca and papaya desserts.
Competing for top spot is also Nam, much loved for its fantastic pad Thai or green and red curry dishes, topped with eye-watering spices. Despite sounding Vietnamese, this Thai restaurant on Dizengoff Street also offers a range of superb noodle dishes, all at reasonable prices that don’t break the bank.
For a lively atmosphere and terrific bites, head over to Kab Kem, Thai House’s little sister. Steaming Thai food and exotic cocktails with a punch will ensure you leave with a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye.
Oodles of Noodles – the love of Vietnamese
While it may be newer to the Tel Aviv culinary scene, Israel has well and truly said Good Morning Vietnam to that county’s phenomenally tasty cuisine.
Vong Vietnamese Kitchen serves up an intriguing range of noodles in charming and lively spot on Rothschild Street. An addictive menu offers must-sample spring rolls, wonderful fish soup and an exquisite papaya salad.
Close by on Lilienblum Street is Hanoi, a chilled venue for authentic and affordable Vietnamese dishes. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the choices are impressive and include the must-try Bahn Mi, the traditional Vietnamese sandwich, and the splendid vegan pho soup.
Centrally located in Rabin Square is Cà Phê Hanoi, a new player in town. Its creative menu packed with local spices and fresh ingredients contains specialities such as Vietnamese spring rolls, steamed fish in banana leaves, salivating chicken with ginger and lemongrass, and is one of our favorite kosher Asian venues.
The exciting taste of fusion
If selecting a particular country for dining proves too challenging, there are many fusion-style restaurants with exciting menus and splendid atmospheres. While Giraffe may have been one of the pioneering pan-Asian restaurants when it opened its doors in the mid-90s, many others have sprung up.
The delightfully named Topolopompo, on HaSoleilim Street, is unquestionably one of the best in town. A diverse choice of exquisite dishes includes culinary masterpieces for both conservative and adventurous diners, with sublime salmon dishes and fresh spring rolls among an endless menu, while the commitment to service and superb décor provide the backdrop to a thoroughly enjoyable meal.
Taizu takes in the personal culinary journey of Chef Yuval Ben Neriah and explores local street food from India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Located on Menakhem Begin Street, the restaurant pays close attention to the textures, colors and spices of the dishes served.
Dan Hotels offers three Tel Aviv hotels and one Herzliya hotel: Dan Tel Aviv, Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, Link Hotel & Hub and Dan Accadia. All our hotels in Tel Aviv are located in stunning beach-front locations.
Israelis’ love of travel across the Far East has transformed the culinary landscape and turned Tel Aviv into one of the world’s foremost culinary melting pots.
Written by Lee Saunders