A is for Asian, ambience – and effort.
For me, my birthday is always a very special occasion, which I duly celebrate by
making a party. As it happened, this year I had to work late on the appointed
day, so I couldn’t make a party that night. So imagine my delight when I was
invited to try out a sushi restaurant that had opened recently in Jerusalem. So
off I went with a close friend to the new branch of the Frangelico chain for a
Tucked away at the end of Shlomzion Hamalka Street,
Frangelico does not reveal on the outside the sophistication it exudes on the
inside. The intimate interior is dimly lit, with soft jazz playing in the
background. A black oval bar takes up the central part of the main floor,
surrounded by small black tables and chairs that hug the curvature of the
picture windows. These are enhanced by elegant black drapes tied to the
side. Behind a glass pane at the far end of the room, a sushi chef displays his
talents as he prepares each dish made to order. The upstairs section has
more of a lounge effect, with computers at the six tables to showcase the
restaurant’s ample fare.
The menu is, in fact, enormous. The large,
laminated double-sided roster (in English) of Asian specialties ranges from
sushi (NIS 25-56), nigiri (NIS 18- 22), sashimi (NIS 36) and dim sum (NIS 36) to
platters of noodle (NIS 47- 56) and rice dishes (NIS 51-52), as well as some
more expensive combinations. What came as a real surprise as I perused the menu
was the section of main courses. It includes hamburgers and French fries (NIS
52), schnitzel (NIS 52), grilled chicken (NIS 52), chicken nuggets in beer dough
(NIS 56), white fish (NIS (89) and entrecote (NIS 99). And there is a children’s
menu as well (NIS 44).
But as Asian food is the spécialité de la maison,
my dining partner and I relegated our choices to that realm. Our amiable
waitress Avia started us off with a plate of six maki with tuna (NIS 30). These
sushi slices were filled with rice, tuna, avocado and carrot, coated with warm
fried panko and served with two dipping sauces. Delicious. This was
followed by another plate of six cold maki-san discs, this time with tuna,
avocado and green onion, coated with a ground peanut crust (NIS 36). Very good.
As we deliberated about what to order next, Aviad the bartender offered us each
a cocktail. Very proud of the 10 cocktails he whips up, he served us a Catalan
Sea Breeze and a Frangelico Apple. Both were pretty, pleasant and potent. While
we sipped our drinks, another congenial waitress brought us a small plate of
tasty Moroccan-style cigars filled with entrecote, served with a salad of
cilantro and caramelized peanuts.
For the main dish, my companion and I
shared the Frangelico noodles with salmon and vegetables in teriyaki sauce, as
well as a small plate of delectable little dim sum dumplings – two filled with
mushrooms and two with chicken (NIS 36 for three). While the noodle dish was a
little too sweet for my companion’s taste, I enjoyed it very much.
it came time for dessert, we’d had our fill and declined to have any, though I
did find out what Frangelico has to offer in that regard (there was no dessert
menu). On offer that night were chocolate soufflé with ice cream (NIS 36);
Bounty – chocolate, coconut and vanilla ice cream (NIS 34); and Ferro Rocher –
chocolate mousse with nuts (NIS 36).
As we had our coats on and were
ready to leave, Avia approached our table and said, “What? No dessert?”
“Not even for your birthday? Just a taste,” she
Well, who were we to argue at that point? So we sat back down
and awaited the last hurrah.
It was well worth waiting for. Avia arrived
and lit a sparkler on what looked like a plate of sushi and a small bowl of soy
sauce, but in fact it was six slices of vanilla ice cream surrounded by cake
encrusted with coconut, with a sliver of chocolate in the middle, all of which
was to be dipped in the bowl of chocolate syrup. How delightful, how delicious
and how thoughtful!
It is that kind of service, fine food and attention to
detail that puts Frangelico high on my list of places that deserve many (happy)
returns of the day.The writer was a guest of the
18 Shlomzion Hamalka, Jerusalem
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