Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Topolopompo (Tel Aviv) 07/2018

Gil Hovav, an Israeli journalist, author, publisher and food blogger refers to this restaurant as one of the three most interesting in Israel. Unfortunately he also calls it the most expensive cheap meal you can get!
Tomolopompo it seems is the name of some mythical Asian dragon and fire is a predominant feature in this restaurant which features a large BBQ at one end of the kitchen
This is what we experienced. 
Aware that there were several dining areas we requested table '600' a table for four that looks over the plating area, often called 'The Chef's Table,

and were pleased to be able to see them preparing dishes.

and this

On entry there is a small dark bar on the left

 and a long common table facing it and the kitchen at the other end.
Tables are bare, black lacquered Japanese style set simply.

Cutlery and glassware are good but not exquisite.
After being seated a waitress explained that, apart from the extensive à la carte menu they offer she could design a degustation menu for us, taking account of any food restrictions or allergies we might have, and this could vary for each of us! Including their signature dish that would be 400 NIS, about A$160 per person. Drinks, of course, would be extra. That sounded excellent and saved as struggling with the extensive menu with four different opinions about every dish.
First came a variation on taco's. Two good bite size crisp 'taco's' filled with (I think,) some crisp fine cut fresh vegetables and raw fish and herbs with a slightly a slightly sweet dressing.

This was accompanied by a sashimi dish.
The super fresh salmon, surrounded by three varieties of sweet wasabi sauce as well as a mild wasabi, was covered by some little red spheres which looked like miniature pomegranite seeds. Actually they were tapioca!
Our next dish was a variation on spring rolls and san chao bao, served with lettuce leaves, mint, crisp fried shallots and a sweet sauce to make a sort of lettuce roll. 

Two salads, one a vegetarian salad,
and one with some protein, which sat on a bed of yoghurt.

The last small course was a corn dumpling which sat in a light corn/mushroom sauce.
This was stuffed with three sorts of corn and had a few mushrooms on top. Next came the main course, 1.8 kilo of lamb shoulder slow cooked until it was falling off the bone and then finished on the BBQ with a Hoisin sauce. 
A large platter with small plates of condiments, including hot chili sauce, kimchi, a sweet bean sauce, bean shoots, spring onion and herbs and a bunch of lettuce leaves surrounded a bamboo steamer 

filled with vietnamese steam buns. 
Another do it yourself dish it was easy to create whatever might most appeal for each individual.

We were presented with some chocolate balls to eat in one bite.
Just as well, They were filled with an indefinable palate cleansing juice.
There was a choice of desserts. We tried the three chocolate one.
Thin leaves of chocolate formed a palisade around a ball of chocolate which also contained a mousse.
A pineapple creation covered in a web of spun sugar
was another option. 
We, and our cousins,
drank an Argentinian Malbec (A$85, which retails at about A$20 a bottle) one of the least expensive options on the menu. We all enjoyed it. They had some cocktails but no wine by the glass that I noticed.
Where the food was concerned this is one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at in Israel. It was marked by delicacy and a subtleness of flavour which is rare. Furthermore it was inventive, beautifully presented and tasty. Service was not obtrusive, pleasant and efficient. Explanations were clear and requests were acted on. The venue is pleasing but the level of the music and it's rhythms were disturbing.
Price wise, by international standards, we did not think it expensive.
Score: 17.5/20

Monday, July 30, 2018

Chooka Asian Kitchen (Yehud Israel) 07/2018

We felt like a Chinese meal and our host suggested this franchise. It's an open air place with one table inside. There's an open suchi bar at one end of the room,

where suchi are made to order,

and a counter with eight wok style pans of food - sweet sour chicken, 
chicken with vegetables, 
beef with vegetables a vegetable dish of peppers, 

potatoes!, white rice, fried rice and noodles.
They offer a meal deal, one protein serve and two others, a soup or spring roll 

and a non alcoholic drink for about A$20.
The place was hot, no air conditioning, and noisy. The guy who served was very obliging but there's not much more that we could say about the place. The only distinctly Asian thing about the place is the name, or at least the sub title. Perhaps the sushi was OK but we didn't have that. 
The photo's of the food do not look particularly attractive and it didn't look or taste any better on the plate.
At least, as the three letters top right tell us, 
it's kosher. MSG doesn't get a mention, they've probably never heard of it.
This would have been the worst meal I have eaten since I did National Service in the army 60 years ago.
Score: Anything would be too much.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kaspi (Tel Aviv) 07/2018

When we look down from our balcony on the fourth floor 

we see cars,
 and a corner restaurant
 The blue and white check table cloths, French bistro style, looked attractive, although they turned out to be a practical plastic.
It was no trouble to go down there for some lunch.
There were only a few tables all occupied, inside the restaurant so we had to sit outside, which was quite pleasant.
Tables are barely set with cutlery and paper napkins in a container. 
Water comes in an old beer jug.
It's a kosher vegetarian restaurant. The short menu is available in English and Hebrew.
The first thing to come to the table is a small plate of pickles.
 We ordered an 'iron' salad, fresh beetroot, baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and seasoning herbs with walnuts and roasted sesame seeds in a soy vinaigrette, served with Bulgarian cheese and mint yoghurt dressing.
 This is quite a mixture of flavours. The seasoning and dressing were so little in evidence that I think the soy was missing altogether.
Humus with roasted mushrooms, tahini, parsley, paprika, olive oil

Served with pita bread was as good as we could wish for.
Green felafel patties served with tahini and parsley were excellent
The hand cut French fries, served with a little bowl of ketchup are a curiosity in size and shape,
 crisp or soft, small or large, they're all on the plate and they taste fine,.
Score:13.5 /20

Monday, July 23, 2018

Popular (Tel Aviv ) 07/2018

If you want a table here it's preferable to make a reservation. So we did. 6.00 pm or 10.00 pm! It's certainly Popular in more than name.
After a short wait we got our table. It was outside. Could we have an inside table please? Sorry, there are no inside tables! 

The whole restaurant is on the street. The toilet? Go into the hotel foyer and downstairs where there is a 'Popular' bar and toilets.
Tables are bare and small with room for little more than two dishes. 
Bread, which costs extra, comes with a couple of dips, one spicy, the other a sweet garlic in oil.
 For starters we had a very good confit leek. 
Buried here it was tender and had a lovely texture, however the contrasting green leaf salad would have been better left off the plate. A red fish sashimi was a fine dish, 

diminished by the heavy, coarsely cut salad it sat on. 
Main courses were another story.
Seafood paparadelles were well prepared with plenty of seafood 
although the creamy sauce was a little heavy.
Tenderloin steak was beautifully presented. 

Cooked as requested it was tender, juicy and well seasoned. Creamy potato mash had a garden of broccoli sprouting from it and the bone marrow was perfect.
Score:14 /20