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Yakimono – World Class Japanese Food in Israel

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I already told you about great experience at the Kimmel restaurant – luckily, it was only the beginning. The next place we visited was Japanese restaurant called Yakimono.

To tell you the truth, in my previous visits to Israel I was a bit skeptical when it would come to sushi – this can be understood considering that I live in close proximity to New York city. After visiting Yakimono I’m a believer – yes, you can find world-class Japanese food in Israel.

We all decided to go for the tasting menu, which seemed to be much more logical choice versus trying to pick a dish from a very long list. Before I will present you with the photo report of that tasting menu, let me mention the wines. For the white, we had 2010 Yarden Gewurztraminer, fresh, with the floral nose and very delicate palate (not overpowering or sweet, as gewurztraminers get sometimes). This wine had notes of white apples and grapefruit on the palate, but was quite balanced at the same time, and worked as great compliment to spicy dishes. For the red, we had 2008 Chateau Golan Royal Reserve Syrah, which was probably the best wine I had during entire trip, and definitely the most interesting. This wine had a nose of Gorgonzola cheese, and very nice and soft palate, with good peppery notes, hint of smoke and ripe and round black fruit, good acidity and nice overall balance.

Now, let me present you with the tasting menu in pictures. First, here is the tasting menu itself:

Here is Sashimi Salad, as tasty as it was colorful:

Next was Jumbo shrimp (it was really Jumbo!):

Salmon balls – also take a look at the tiny morsels you see there – those are mushrooms, and I have to admit, they were some of the most flavorful bits of food imaginable:

then sushi plate, which included 4 different kinds (yellowtail, eel, shrimp and salmon and avocado):

Unfortunately, I missed the moment to take a picture of tempura (but most of you know how tempura looks like), so the next picture is showing seared tuna and lemon (tasted great, and take look at the presentation!):

Next dish was yellowtail tuna cooked in the authentic sauce:

The tasting menu concluded with beef fillet wrap:

And then – dessert. First, an ice cream:

and a cheesecake:

This concludes my photo report. If I convinced you to give this restaurant a try, my mission is accomplished. If I didn’t – you should still try it. Cheers!

Israel Food and Wine Experiences: Kimmel Restaurant–Wow!

January 23, 2012 5 comments

I don’t know how does it work, but every time I come to Israel (which happens about once a year), the food here is getting better and better – every time. This year my friend took me to the Kimmel restaurant, located very close to the Neve Tzedek district in Tel-Aviv.

I can describe my experience at this restaurant with a single word (is that officially a word?) – WOW! Starting from décor, going to service, and then wines and food, everything was just impeccable (am I exaggerating? I don’t think so – it was seriously a “wow” experience).

Starting with the décor (which I don’t have the pictures of, unfortunately), the place has an ambiance of the French countryside tavern – very rustic, dark aged wood paneling, old bottles ( and some new) are everywhere, dimmed lighting.

For an appetizer we had a beets salad with fried goat cheese, pistachio  and baby greens (very good):

And then mushrooms with Foie Gras ( outstanding!) – perfect sauce and the overall combination of mushrooms and foie gras ( not your everyday appetizer):

Of course we had wine. I had been a big fan of Israeli wines for a while – the quality of the wine I tried was improving every year – and there are more and more Israeli wines which are simply world-class. We selected 2009 Tzora Vineyards Judean Hills wine, which was a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah – soft, balanced, with good amount of dark fruit, but not overpowering the food. This wine paired very well with our choice of appetizers, and of course it was gone before the main course arrived.

For the main course I choose boulibaise, and it was impeccable. Balance of acidity and spiciness, perfectly cooked, succulent mussels, shrimp and crab claws. And for the great touch – an addition of a shot of anise liquor, which put the whole dish on the next level – perfect!


And then desert… Absolutely on par with all the excellent dishes. First, cappuccino:

Then creme brulee four different styles – probably one of the absolute best I ever had, as in a lot of cases creme brulee is simply reminiscent of the sweet omelet – this one was light, creamy and delicious, without any egg taste showing up:


And for the last highlight of the meal – chocolate lady fingers ( that was the name of the dish). I don’t want to sound as judges at Iron Chef or Chopped, but this was one of the rare experiences where the texture was really a key in the dish – perfect balance of creaminess of the chocolate with the crunch of the cookie – totally different from anything I had before – nothing cloying, nothing sticking – just perfect.


All in all, if you are planning your visit Tel-Aviv, put Kimmel restaurant on your “must” list – and you can thank me later. Cheers!

Messa, Chef Restaurant

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Once again, I would like to state the obvious – it is great to have friends. I’m in Israel again, and thanks to my dear friend Kfir, the culinary journey continues (I already wrote about few of my favorite places in Tel-Aviv, and you can read about it here and here). The new discovery – Messa, Chef Restaurant in Tel-Aviv.

Few years ago, I was quite lucky to visit (well, the right word is “to experience”) restaurant called Orca in Tel-Aviv ( lucky simply because the place is now closed – and it was on the list of 100 best restaurants in the world). This might be a bit far fetching, but Messa reminded me of that Orca visit. May be in ambiance, may be in food presentation and quality, may be in expectations – but I found some resemblance between the two.

For wine, we decided to go with Judean Hills Har’El Syrah 2008 from CLOS de GAT, one of the boutique Israeli wineries (it also represented very good value at about $55 on the wine list). This wine was round and polished, with hint of spices, leather and dark red fruit, complemented by soft tannins.

Messa doesn’t offer tasting menu, however, a lot of appetizers and main dishes are offered in small and large sizes, which essentially allows to create a tasting menu – this is what we decided to do. We had three different appetizers – Purple Calamari, Veal Sweetbreads and Foie Gras, out of which the Foie Gras had the best balance of flavors:

Purple  Calamari with lemon cream, eel and goose liver

Veal Sweetbreads with sweet potato tortellini, sunchoke cream and pearl onions

Foie Gras

 

For the main dishes we decided on Black Truffle Ravioli, Seafood Couscous in Crab Lemon Broth and Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto.  The first two dishes listed Lemon among the ingredients – and it was A LOT of lemon in those dishes. To be more precise, it was too much of it, so the winner of the entree taste contest was Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto, which had amazing earthy and heart warming taste profile. And of course, with the pictures:

Black Truffle Ravioli

Seafood Couscous in Lemon Crab and Thyme Broth

Risotto with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

 

Dessert? Of course there was dessert – your waistline doesn’t take priority when you in a restaurant like this. We ordered one dessert, Valrhona Chocolate Delight, and got a nice surprise in a form of Strawberry Banana Crumble desert “on the house”. There was no competition here – both were great:

Valrhona Chocolate Delight

Strawberry Banana Crumble

Israel is growing at tremendous pace as a country, and its culinary landscape is getting better and better all the time. I wish all of us many pleasant discoveries along this culinary journey…

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