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.

Uptown Eats

I tried a couple restaurants around Uptown that have been on my ‘to-try’ list for quite some time.

The first: Fuji Ya

Fuji Ya is a sushi restaurant on Lake Street between Lyndale and Garfield. I’ve seen it recognized as a top notch sushi joint on several occasions, so I decided to give it a try.

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Their happy hour deals from 5-7pm are awesome, so I went with a couple friends during that time frame. I ordered the yakitorii (chicken skewers) and futo maki specialty roll (egg, tofu, squash, spinach, cucumber, and japanese pickles).

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Everything was good, but I always seem to have the same feeling after eating sushi: I’m not full. I feel like I would need to eat several rolls to really feel full after a sushi dinner. Still, I thought it was good and would certainly go back here. I think I still prefer Wakame in Calhoun Commons though.

The second place I tried was Caffrey’s Deli.

Caffrey’s is a sandwich shop on Lyndale between Lake and 31st.

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Caffrey’s is another place that had been highly recommended both by people I know and various Twin Cities food reviews (VitaMN just listed it as the #2 sandwich shop in the Twin Cities). That said, I was pretty excited to see what all of the fuss was about.

Caffrey’s has a pretty small interior, and you order at a walk up counter (they also deliver).

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Besides the main event of sandwiches, there was a case with some nice looking desserts, and they also appeared to sell Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.

Their menu is pretty basic – sandwiches and soups. The specifics, however, are not basic. Rather than offering one or two soups, there are 8 to choose from. The sandwiches come on white or wheat, and they have the standards along with philly-style sandwiches and a make-your-own option.

I opted for the loaded chicken philly on wheat (loaded means it comes with peppers, onions, and mushrooms) and a side of cole slaw.

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The sandwich was good, but I wouldn’t write home about it. I think all the hype got me thinking that I would take one bite and be thrown into an ecstatic frenzy yelling, “this is the greatest sandwich ever!” Needless to say, that did not happen. The sandwich was fine. I enjoyed my meal. But I don’t plan on running back to get another one any time soon. Disclaimer for all you Caffrey’s die-hards: I will admit I am not a big sandwich person to begin with. I much prefer other lunch time meals, so feel free to consider that fact when judging this post. 🙂

Sushi Tango

I went to Sushi Tango in Uptown with a few friends this past week. Despite living only a couple blocks away, I’d never been here before.

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It was dark inside, hence the poor picture quality of my chopsticks package.

We came during happy hour (which lasts until 7pm on weeknights), so several appetizers and sushi rolls were dirt cheap. We all ordered 2 items and no one paid more than $10, including tip. I ordered the vegetable gyoza (dumplings):

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I wasn’t expecting them to be fried, which they were. I wouldn’t have ordered had I known, but I ate them anyway. I also had an asparagus roll but didn’t take a picture. Others around the table ordered california rolls, spicy salmon rolls, edamame, and shrimp spring rolls.

They definitely give you a nice quantity of food for the happy hour price, and the above dumplings plus asparagus roll (6 decent-sized pieces) filled me up for dinner. I do think the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ holds some weight here. The food price and quantity get high marks, but the quality is definitely lacking. Everything seemed to be ‘just okay,’ and there weren’t enough vegetarian options that there were a lot of other menu items for me to try (I don’t eat real sushi). My recommendation would be to go somewhere else if you’re looking for good sushi, but keep this in mind for a cheap happy hour option in Uptown.