Eating legit Turkish Shwarma in Tel Aviv: Turk Lachmaj’un

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Turk Lachmaj’un

20160731_123658WOW, when I left, Turk Lachmaj’un I was impressed. I mean it’s known that the two most common street foods in Israel are falafel and shwarma, but the way they do things at Turk Lachmaj’un really take it to the next level. I want to thank my friend Mitch Schnieder for introducing me to this place because I KNOW I’m going to head back there.

Turk Lachmaj’un (Kosher Rabbanute Tel Aviv) has been around for a while, and their standards have stayed the same since day 1. For those 20160731_121912of you who don’t know what a lachmaj’un is, (here comes the culinary tidbit) it’s a loaf of bread baked with any type of meat inside. The dish hails from Turkey, and has become a very popular dish in restaurants around Israel. Traditionally it’s baked with lamb, but those who can’t afford it will use beef or any other meat they fancy. Traditionally it’s served with techina, but you can enjoy it with any dip you like.

Now to the restaurant. I call it a restaurant because it really  is. You have an option to either eat a shwarma to go and have them wrap up 20160731_115844your meal in a laffa or lachmaj’un or to sit down and enjoy the full experience where they bring you salads to your table and you eat with a fork and knife. I chose the first option, and it was perfect! A little more about the restaurant, show up early or you will be waiting a long time to enjoy an amazing meal because the place is packed during the lunch rush. Most of the food is made in-house from the salads to the fries, I don’t know if the meat is prepared there but I know that each lachmaj’un is made in the stone oven that they hide in the corner. Now I need to break down the lacmaj’un process for you: They bake each lachmaj’un fresh to order. the lachmaj’un is prepared like this: they bake the meat and spices into and open-faced type of laffa bread and then when it comes out of the oven, they fill it with more meat!If you aren’t already drooling, here comes the fun part, I chose lamb all the way through, then he put in the fillings that were so fresh, from the techina dripping through, pickled onions, and I don’t even remember what else the guy put in, but it made it a perfect bite! The lamb was super moist and full of flavor and you can taste the lamb all the way through because it’s baked into the bread! The fries were a bit soggy because sadly Israelis don’t believe in a double fry french fry (pomme frites) but everything else was just perfect.

Turk Lachmaj’un is one of the best shwarmas I have had in Israel, definitely in my top 5 in Israel. So if you find yourself in the Nachalat Binyamin area of central Tel Aviv, come by foot, because there’s almost no parking and get on line for some of the best shwarma, Tel Aviv has to offer.

 

Last stop at the First Train Station in Jerusalem: Station 9

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Station 9

IMG_20150701_205822For those of you who are not from the Jerusalem area, you should know that the days of Emek Refaiim are over and the day of the First Train Station has begun. The Station holds many restaurants and an open market every weekend. The Station has gained popularity with all crowds , because there’s plenty of parking, all the main bus lines pass by, and has a great atmosphere. My favorite restaurant that has been open from day one at the train station so far, is Station 9(Rabbanute Yerushalyim).

Station 9 is probably the best kosher Asian fusion restaurant in Israel. It’s a fusion restaurant like almost every other kosher type of Asian cuisine restaurant (River, Deck’s, Sushi Rechavia just to name some) because almost no one doing authentic Asian food by country except the Chinese Wall (Hachoma HaSinit) in Tel AvivIMG_20150701_204909(review to come) who make legit and authentic Chinese food. It’s all a mix of flavors that the Israeli’s like mainly stir fries. Very depressing, but it is what it is, thank goodness that Station 9 makes amazing food.

The menu has a wide variety of appetizers starting with soups, salads and small meat and chicken dishes. But two appetizers stand out on the menu that you almost can’t find anywhere: Bau Bau sliders and potstickers.  For those of you who don’t know what those are let me describe is to you. A Bau bun is a unique steamed bun that hails out of China. It has a very soft and chewy texture that you can only get out of a steamed bun. A potsticker is a fried dumpling made by hand that is usually filled with a protein. A non fried dumpling is galled a gioza and is customary steamed with the same type of filling as a potsticker.

IMG_20150701_210429Now that the cooking lesson is over, let’s get to what me and my friends ordered. We were 4 people so we ordered 3 appetizers, and 3 mains. We didn’t order a dessert because we were stuffed by then, and here’s why. For the appetizers we ordered 4 Bau Bau sliders, 2 filled with pulled short ribs(asado), 1 duck and 1 hamburger. For the 3rd appetizer we ordered potstickers(giozas) because, I had to try it!  The food came out pretty fast, and the presentation was very nice. The Bau Bau came with a chipotle, cilantro and chili oily inside, and the potstickers(giozas) were filled with chicken and came with a soy and sesame dipping sauce. The Bau Bau were extraordinarily  delicious, ranking the best was the duck then the short ribs and the burger last. They were all tasteful and well prepared, but the duck was definitely the best. Moving on to the giozas (potstickers) they were also surprisingly delightful. The filling was seasoned perfectly and the soy dipping sauce only elevated the dish.

IMG_20150701_210139Moving on to the main courses, we ordered a stir fry, the Pad Khing and 2 of the Japanese spare ribs. Again, we didn’t wait long for the mains to come, and wow was I surprised. The spare ribs were huge! They also came with a side of white rice and fresh broccoli, which added a nice touch. Luckily, all 4 of us ordered the spare ribs to share with their spouse because they were that big. The spare ribs are slow cooked and then finished in the deep fryer to give it a nice crunchy beefy exterior. The ribs were a bit tough, but the flavor was all there, and the sides were a very nice compliment. The Pad Khing was also superb, the flat rice noodles really sopped up the sauce, the beef was tender ad the sauce was really what brought the dish home.

The spare ribs were so big, it really filled us up and we couldn’t order a dessert, but next time we go we’ll see what happens.

Station 9 is a great culinary experience and definitely one of the best kosher restaurants in the city. Since they have become so popular the prices are a bit high, but if you go before 5, you will get a 20% discount off the entire menu. If you find yourself in Jerusalem and looking for a great Asian style restaurant, go and try Station 9.

Healthy Quinoa and Beet salad with a Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette

20160714_141628Everyone is into quinoa these days, so here is my special quinoa recipe I learnt at chef school

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 3 cooked beets
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbls of balsamic vinegar
  • Fillet of 1 orange and the juice squeezed out of it
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Recipe

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Saute the red onion until browned.
  3. Once everything is cooked, mix the rest of the ingredients together and serve cold.

 

A great Italian Dairy Restaurant in Eilat with ridiculous Bagels!

20151130_183447Il Pentolino

20151130_184138When you travel down south to the city of Eilat, there’s a chance that the hotel you go to offers half-board or full-board, so you won’t really go out for dinner or breakfast. If you happen NOT to be at one of these establishments, I would recommend you stop at Il Pentolino(kosher Rabbanute Eilat). Why do I say breakfast and dinner you ask? Here’s why: They make some of the most amazing bagels in Israel, in an Italian restaurant! Oh, 20151130_184145and the service was very good and the staff was very accommodating and polite.


Before we get into bagels, lets talk about my family’s experience there. I was the only one to order an appetizer and since it was December, I went with French onion soup, with a melted cheese crostini. The soup was superb. There was so much depth from the caramelized onions and the cheese melt, crostini was a great addition. My wife shared it with me and agreed that this was a legit French onion soup, my 20151130_185548daughter didn’t understand why my soup was brown, but let’s move on.

For the main course we all ordered different things to share, I ordered the lasagna (because I’m a lasagna freak) my wife ordered the oven baked whole trout with baked potato wedges and my daughter ordered the pizza.

20151130_184946I have to make a comment about the menu, it’s huge! There are over 15 types of pastas and sauces, 10 types of pizza and the variety of spreads to put on a bagel is huge. I want to mention the bagels because they themselves are worthy of a post on its own. What I loved that they do is instead of offering guests bread at the table, they toast the old bagels and serve them hot, so good!

20151130_190936When they brought out the mains we were all salivating, it looked so good, and guess what, it tasted even better. The pizza crust was super crunchy from the fresh dough, the sauce was spot on and the cheese was a great blend of mozzarella and yellow cheese. My daughter loved it and so did we. The lasagna was amazingly cheesy and piping hot. I couldn’t wait until it cooled down to taste it and it was so worth burning my mouth for! Fresh pasta, cooked eggplant and so much cheese and sauce! It’s a good thing I had the bagels to mop up all that sauce and cheese. It was like having 2 dishes in one! The fish came out on a platter that could feed five people (The portions were pretty hefty, the way I like it!) and was cooked to perfection. Full of herbs, garlic and the right amount of seasoning to take the fish over the top. It was flaky, juicy and delicious.

For an Italian restaurant\ bagel restaurant with good service and that delivers to the hotels, I would highly recommend you try IL Pentolino at least once while you are visiting the city of Eilat.

Turning 30 at Skyline Restaurant

 

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20160623_194119June is a month of birthday’s in my family. All three of us have birthday’s in the same week! So we decided to dress up, go to Jerusalem and check out the well talked about restaurant, Skyline. Skyline, is one of the only gourmet chef’s restaurants that is mehadrin, in Jerusalem. Located on the top floor of the Jerusalem Gardens Hotel, you can enjoy a view of most of the city. Before I get to the food, I have to tell you about the ambiance, the restaurant is super clean, the waiters wear white gloves, and uniforms and the entire staff what delightful.

20160623_194945So lets move on the food. We started off with homemade bread and 3 dips,and boy I could eat that bread all day long! Glancing at the menu everything looked so good! From the salad, to the pâté, we had no clue what to order. So we asked the waiter what was good, and said that the pasta was hand made so we went with the pappardelle and the tortellini. The pappardelle comes with rib eye strips, garlic confit, roasted cherry tomatoes and chili, and the tortellini are filled with ground steak and is  accompanied with chicken broth and root vegetables. The results were
20160623_195749very good, and the portions were huge for an appetizer. Two heaping portions of food came to us and the presentation was awesome. The tortellini comes dry and the waitress pours hot chicken broth on the tortellini and really makes the dish impressive (I have the video on my instagram feed here). Both dishes were very good and pretty filling. Then the chef sent out a plate of pate on a bruschetta with a balsamic reduction and a fig. The pate was so smooth and delicious, and the figs only complimented the delicious pate.

20160623_202544Moving on to the main course, for those who know me know I love steak! So I ordered myself the 400g rib eye medium rare, with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables and my wife ordered the duck leg confit, with bok choy, apricots in a duck stock. So the waitress made a mistake and brought me a steak that was medium well and not what i ordered so she took it back without hesitation and brought me a new one. It came in two steaks, but it was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Tender and juicy, the way I like my steak.

T20160623_201015he duck legs were a huge portion, it came with two duck legs that were just sweet enough and with all the sides it was a perfect dish. On a side note, the mashed potatoes were some of the best I ever had! My wife really doesn’t like mashed potatoes, but these she liked.

At this stage we were already stuffed, but because it was, my wife’s birthday they offered us dessert on the house which was super nice. So we ordered the cookie ice cream sandwich and my wife ordered the mango sorbet. When they brought out the desserts they all sang happy 20160623_205334birthday, which was super nice and the dessert was really nice too! The ice cream came with 3 chocolate sauces, but weren’t needed because the ice cream sandwich was really good. The cookie melted in my mouth and the vanilla ice cream was super smooth. The mango sorbet was missing a bit of acidity and sweetness, but was very refreshing.

All in all it was a great experience, the service, ambiance, the food, even when I met the chef who was a mensch, it was a great dining experience. I think I’m going to head back and try some of the other great looking dishes on the menu.


 

 

The Beef Bar Steakhouse behind IKEA in Netanya


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Beef Bar Netanaya

20160425_211310It happens to be a very rare to find a proper steakhouse in Israel, that the stars of the menu aren’t cuts of steak. Instead the are skewers serving chicken, turkey or beef, but not a proper steak. As I have said in the past that is the real meaning of a steakhouse, that the beef is king, and you don’t call it a stekiya, which is supposed to mean steak house but it’s really an Israeli type which bombard you with fresh salads and pitas, and everything is grilled on a stick. Not that I’m complaining, some of the best meals I have had in Israel are in steakiyot, but Beef Bar really lived up to it’s name.

First thing you see when you walk in, is the decor, a style you’d find in Texas. Leather covered booths, antlers on the walls. Not the typical decor of South American restaurants you’ll find in Israel, because there is nothing south american about the place. All the waiters are wearing uniforms, the bathrooms are clean and there’s an open kitchen.

Knowing that we’re off to a great start, I need to point out how many people we were. We went a party 5 adults and 3 kids eating there on the porch outside. Luckily it was a beautiful night so not many bugs and great weather.

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We started our meal off with a number of appetizers: A liver pate, carpaccio and chicken wings. We also ordered a 8f8d64d6f8204830a11fa5af994731d6nice bottle of Tavor wine to compliment the meat appetizers and mains to come. The appetizers came out pretty quickly and were plated beautifully. The carpaccio had pickled artichokes, green olives and a balsamic glaze to really compliment the thinly slices of fillet, really nice. The we moved on to the pate, which was one of the creamiest pate’s I have ever had. The only other pate dishes that tasted that good to me was at Hachatzer and at Jem’s. The plate was designed beautifully on a 20160425_201820tile with thin slices of toast, a beautiful dish. The wings were crispy on the outside, and the sauce was nicely balanced, between sweet and spicy, all the appetizers were big hits!

Moving on to the mains,  We ordered a lot of meat! There was a fillet, a couple of rib steaks, lamb chops, a New York sandwich, and I ordered something called Feedlot. Feedlot is premium Angus beef, that was aged in the restaurant for 28 days. I have never ordered a cut like that in a restaurant so I gave it a shot. We all ordered different side, but I went with a classic coleslaw 20160425_201835and mashed potatoes.

The meats came out all together and on cast iron pans to keep them warm  which was very professional in my opinion. Hot plates are very important if you are serving hot dishes. So how was the beef you ask? AMAZING! Every cut of beef was cooked to perfection with no mistakes. Very tender meat thanks to the dry aging, great marbling in the steak, and you can tell that they invest in the quality of beef. The lamb chops were tender and full of flavor, and the sandwich had a sauce on it that was finger licking good. The feedlot that I ordered did taste different than regular beef prime rib, very tender and delicious though! The sides were just as good as the mains, creamy mashed potatoes seasoned with just enough salt, and the coleslaw that was just the way it should be, a bit salty and sweet! Other things that caught my eye on the menu was the 1 kilo menu. Instead of ordering a bunch of steaks to order a kilo for the table, unless you’re really hungry, same for the kilo hamburger!

20160425_20473820160425_205338On the verge of a beef coma, my cousins wanted to try dessert. The owner recommended the chocolate mousse and a trio of sorbets. If you are a chocoholic, this mousse is for you. Super creamy, great chocolate flavor, a nice variety of sweet sauces to elevate the dish and a perfect crust to top it all off(even though the crust was on the bottom!). Again an amazing dessert, as for the trio of sorbets. Each one full of fruit flavor and vanilla, all the flavors were just delish!

Price wise, on the pricier side, but worth every penny. From the quality ingredients, to the amazing staff, all worth it. A real steakhouse experience that is pretty hard to find around Israel, and was definitely worth the trip!

My Anniversary Dinner at the new Alumah Restaurant

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20160509_191934Last night my wife and I celebrated 6 wonderful years of marriage together! Our anniversary is really on the 10th but this year it comes out on Yom Hazikaron, so we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate properly. After sharing a bit about why we went, let’s get to the food!

About the place, it is a fine dining establishment: white tablecloths, comfortable chairs and really good service thanks to Gavriel, who was shadowing and teaching the waiters how to work in a fine dining establishment. We asked him what was good, and after that ordered20160509_192659 appetizers. My in-laws, who joined us(Happy Birthday DAD!) ordered the cured trout gravlax style, on beetroot carppacio with a light horseradish cream, my wife ordered the green leaf salad with poached pears and roasted seeds and nuts, and I ordered the salmon and garden peas risotto. Before we started with the appetizers, they started us off with fresh bread made in-house with three dips: A beetroot dip, pesto and an egg based dip. The bread was delicious, and the dips were a hit. the star was definitely the beetroot dip, which we asked for more a couple of times!20160509_192830

The cured trout looked and tasted very fresh and delicious, especially the beet carpaccio, a great addition. The leafy salad was a bit bitter but the poached pears were a very nice balance. The risotto was creamy and smooth and cooked perfectly, the salmon was fresh and the peas were a nice addition as well. After enjoying a slew of delicious appetizers we enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Shiraz from the Dalton winery. For a guy who is getting into wine, it was a delightful wine. Full of flavor with a sweet 20160509_200134and smoky finish with great tannins. I highly recommend it any time you are going to enjoy a nice meat meal!

The we ordered the mains. My wife ordered the grey mullet with swiss chard, mushroom ragout and warm tehini sauce, me and my father in law ordered the rib eye steak with a hollandaise sauce and my mother in law ordered the lamb chops with gnocchi and ratatouille.

The food came out very quickly which was very nice and it did not 20160509_200144disappoint. lets start with the steak. Cooked to a perfect medium rare topped with a gravy with shallots. The steak was grilled to perfection and was so tender it melted in my mouth. It was lacking a bit of salt, but I feel that was a personal preference. The green beans and potatoes were a nice side but the steak was the star of the show.

The fish was presented beautifully but was a bit overcooked. So my wife was a bit dissapointed, but the flavors were definitely brought to the dish. Then the lamb chops. A bit on the fatty side but again cooked to 20160509_200210perfection, and the gnocchi, I can’t stop praising it enough. So light and smooth, melted in my mouth, and to round it all out, the ratatouille was fresh with a lot of basil and was a great compliment to the dish.

After almost filling up we decided to order desserts. they were very interesting and different. like my wife and mother in-law ordered the tapioca and mango with mint, a crepe madlen with vanilla sauce and orange blossom and my father in-law went with the chocolate espresso mousse. The chef sent out an extra dessert for our anniversary which 20160509_203957was a pineapple crumble with banana and date honey ice cream.

This is where the mixed reviews started coming in. First came out the fresh pineapple crumble and ice cream. I Have to say that the banana ice cream was one of the most delicious parve ice creams i have ever tasted and I hate bananas! The crumble was too sweet, but the ice cream stole the show. Then came the tapioca and mango dessert. If you like tapioca anything, this dessert is for you. the mango foam was very refreshing but I’m not a tapioca fan and my wife didn’t like it. on the 20160509_204104other hand my mother in law wiped hers out! It was very pretty and refreshing after such a heavy meal.

The crepe that I ordered also came with a berry ice cream and boy was it needed. The crepes looked amazing, but was overwhelming with orange, and that really hid the taste of the vanilla cream in the crepe. The berry ice cream really broke that orange flavor and again, another amazing parve ice cream. The chocolate espresso mouse was very good. it came with a ball of chocolate ice cream, again the star of the dish. The 20160509_204112mousse was nice and airy, the espresso was very weak which was good because it didn’t take over the whole dish. So the desserts were a bit disappointing but that shouldn’t take away from the rest my dinner experience.

Price wise, it is very decent for a fine dining establishment. For me and my wife it came out about 400 shekels(my in-laws covered for the wine and tip) which in my  opinion is very reasonable.

20160509_204050All in all, they are a restaurant in the beginning of their way, and I hope when I return, I will have a great experience like I had last night!