Ethnic food in Jerusalem

While Israel likes to stay true to its hummus and falafel roots (and I often hear people joke that you know you’ve accepted the Israeli lifestyle when you are willing to eat hummus for any meal of the day), there is also a smattering of ethnic restaurants around. Some of these restaurants are jokingly belittled for sub-par attempts at ethnic cuisine, but others are actually quite good. Here are a few non-Middle Eastern food restaurants from around Jerusalem that I’ve tried:

1. Kangaroo

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Kangaroo is a Georgian restaurant near the Ben Yehuda area. The menu is comprised of various meat stews and other traditional Georgian dishes. I ordered a salad sampler plate with various types of salads and spreads:

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I don’t think I had ever had Georgian food prior to Kangaroo, and it’s always fun to try something new! I don’t think it’s a new favorite though, and I would probably prioritize other types of food…or, let’s be real, just eat more hummus.

2. Sushi Rehavia

Sushi Rehavia is a popular sushi/Japanese cuisine chain in Jerusalem. There are a few locations around the city, and I know lots of people who like to use their delivery service. I’m not generally a big sushi fan, but a big part of that is that it’s very difficult to avoid non-kosher seafood at sushi restaurants in the U.S. So, it seemed like a kosher sushi restaurant in Israel would be my best bet for a good sushi experience!

I went to Sushi Rehavia a couple weeks ago with Noah and our friend Avi, and the food was really good! We ordered a few combo sushi plates and a ramen noodle soup (yes, ramen noodles are something besides highly-processed, 99-cent bags of disease-causing preservatives).

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The soup was soooo yummy (as was the sushi, but I mainly ate the soup). I would definitely recommend a visit to Sushi Rehavia.

3. Ness Cafe

The intersection at Emek Refaim and Rachel Imenu has recently undergone some changes. The main storefront previously occupied by Marvad Haksamim has now been taken over by Ness Cafe. But, Marvad Haksamim fans, do not despair. Marvad has simply moved a couple storefronts over on Rachel Imenu to the small shop previously occupied by Ness. Basically, Ness used to only sell coffee and take-out desserts while Marvad had a full restaurant and ran their famous Friday, prepared food for Shabbat business from the restaurant. Now, after swapping spaces, Ness is offering a full restaurant menu and Marvad is only doing take-out food. The interior of Ness is bright and friendly with lots of full-length windows:

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I had bought some desserts from Ness Cafe when it was only a bakery, and everything was quite tasty so I was excited to try the restaurant. As a bakery, Ness had promoted itself as a French establishment (presumably owned by Frenchies). It has kept its same French spirit after becoming a full restaurant…perhaps most notably evidenced by the fact that it had no English menu – only French and Hebrew. WUT?????? This is unheard of in Jerusalem restaurants. Seems like they’re making a statement that the gentrified German Colony area isn’t only American turf anymore (which is already pretty evident from the ever-increasing presence of French language on the streets in these parts. It’s no wonder really, I don’t think I would want to be Jewish in France).

Noah and I chose the Hebrew menu and I was pleased that my Hebrew skills were sufficient enough to enable us to order a salad and pizza:

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The food was good, but it didn’t stand out as particularly different or noteworthy from many of the other cafes around Jerusalem. I think Ness’s main draw remains in its dessert and coffee options.

4. Moshe Burger

*the following three sentences are written with a slightly sarcastic tone
Why is America always getting overlooked for its contributions to world cuisine? Seriously, who doesn’t love a good burger?! Sometimes all you need is a juicy hunk of perfectly-shaped and grilled ground beef, dripping with [insert favorite sauce here].

I fulfilled this basic human need for a good burger a few weeks ago at the Moshe Burger inside Cinema City. Why yes, we went to Cinema City again. 🙂 Moshe Burger had a very sleek ambiance, but the menu and atmosphere was still goofy and fun.

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I ordered a classic burger with a combo of beef and lamb meat, and Noah ordered a set of three sliders (their menu includes lots of creative burger toppings as well as a rotating menu of burger specials):

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Yum yum yum. This was probably the best burger I’ve had in Israel…no doubt in large part because it has been near impossible to get a fully-cooked burger in this country. Holy COW (pun intended to reference the practically living raw meat that has been smushed between two halves of a bun in my previous burger-ordering attempts). Bottom line, go to Moshe Burger and you will be happy.

And since I mentioned Cinema City and, I’m sure, piqued your interest…

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Noah and I are still as enamored as always with the ridiculous show of excess and American culture at this place:

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We saw the movie The Water Diviner in the Twilight Theater. Yes, you heard me, there is a Twilight Theater:

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Admittedly, it was a little hard to focus on Russell Crowe looking for his lost sons who were reportedly killed during the battle at Gallipoli during WWI (basic plot of The Water Diviner) when Edward Cullen was looking down on me…but somehow I managed.

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Idan Raichel Concert and Cinema City in Jerusalem

Last week was full of great entertainment for me here in Jerusalem- woohoo!

Here is a quick recap of the highlights:

1) The Idan Raichel Project Concert at the Jerusalem International Convention Center

Idan Raichel is an Israeli musician who’s been somewhat of a cultural/national icon for many years. He performs with a group called the Idan Raichel project, and the music is a blend of Middle Eastern sounds. The Jerusalem International Convention Center is in the north of the city near to the Central Bus Station, and it was a huge building with lots of interesting artwork that I hope to have more time to look at in the future. People streaming in for the concert:

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The concert was awesome. Something that I liked was that Idan Raichel wasn’t at all centerstage the whole time – primarily he sat to the side of the stage on the piano and other members of the group took a central focus:

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If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend seeing the Idan Raichel Project in concert! (if you want to check out some of his most famous songs, look here, here, or here!)

2) Hosting “balls” Shabbat!

On Friday night, Noah and I had a group of people we play basketball with over for Shabbat dinner. Since we are united by basketball, it seemed appropriate to give the dinner a ‘balls’ theme – ie, food in the shape of balls! It was a lot of fun and – needless to say – hilarious. The menu included lentil balls, meatballs, cherry tomatoes, small potatoes, and rice with peas:

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3) Cinema City in Jerusalem

Imagine if Disney World and Times Square had a baby…okay, got it?!

That’s Cinema City in Jerusalem! Noah and I had heard about this movie theater/mall/phenomenon since coming to Israel, and it is truly quite an experience. We decided to go there for a movie and dinner this past Motzei Shabbat (after the end of Shabbat on Saturday night), and it was pretty impressive! In these pictures, the place is just coming alive because Shabbat recently ended:

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Something you don’t see everyday…

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When you walk in, the upper level is where you can buy tickets and there is a mall of sorts with lots of shops and restaurants. Then, there is a lower level with theaters and an impressive concessions stand (serving Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!):

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We saw the movie American Sniper (in English, Hebrew subtitles):

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I thought the movie was very good, although the intense content of the film left me feeling somewhat on edge afterwards. If you want to see something lighter, they are also showing 50 Shades currently…

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4) Days of Togetherness!!

‘Days of Togetherness’ is super cheesy but also amazingly fun. I first read about the idea on Carrots ‘N’ Cake, and I thought it sounded super cute/nice. Noah and I did it last year, and we decided to do it again this year! Carrot does it for 24 days leading up to Christmas, but we’ve done it pretty much whenever seems like a good time! Here’s how it works…

– choose a number of days (we’re doing 28 this year) and think of that number of activities that you would like to do with your partner
– write each activity on a separate slip of paper
– put all of the papers in a container of sorts
– every day, draw and activity and do it!
super easy. super fun.

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So far, we have drawn the following activities: write a note, send a snapchat of a mystery item, play Dominion, play a game (unspecified), and find a recipe for the other person to make for dinner this week.

And…I’m actually just about to go on a walk for today’s activity so, bye. 🙂