We drive often from Jerusalem to Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava to visit family. We often want to stop to eat on the way, but until recently there was no place for a quick kosher meal.
Now a new mall has opened in Ein Bokek with several kosher options. But closer to Jerusalem is a place I’ve driven by dozens of times and never visited until now.
The Biankini Resort is at the northern Dead Sea next to Kalya Beach. To get there you drive down a long road until you reach a large parking lot.
The restaurant is just inside the gates of the resort.
Biankini is owned and run by Dina Dagan, a larger-than-life figure with a great story. During the Second Intifada, Dagan owned a pub in downtown Jerusalem called Biankini.
One night when the pub was packed, she noticed one of her Arab workers acting strangely. He put down a bag and left the pub. She realized it was a bomb, and got everyone out of the pub. She then took the bag outside and called the police.
After that incident, she moved to a tent in the Dead Sea area and gradually built the Biankini Resort.
The kosher restaurant has a gorgeous view of the Dead Sea, and doubles as a wedding and events hall. The tiles are all from Morocco. The décor is baffling, with some large plastic statues of vaguely biblical-looking characters, as well as statues of various animals.
The menu is a combination of Israeli and Moroccan dishes. There is no English menu, but Dina speaks fluent English. A meal of a hamburger, or kebabs, or shnitzelonim with chips and salad is NIS 65. I recommend the Moroccan tagine dishes served in the traditional Moroccan clay pots with the pointed lids.
I tasted artichokes stuffed with meat (75 NIS), or tagine with grilled chicken (NIS 75). The chicken had a spice rub that was delicious. All tagines come with couscous.
There is also a special couscous with dried fruit in a silan sauce (NIS 75).
Vegetarians can do fine here, too, with a salad platter (NIS 65) of Moroccan carrots, beet salad, matboucha (Moroccan pepper salad), Moroccan eggplant salad, and strips of red pepper and carrot in a lemon sauce.
For a lighter meal there is a Tunisian sandwich (NIS 35) of hard-boiled egg, tuna, pickled lemon and harissa, or sabich (NIS 35) with hard-boiled egg, potato, and fried eggplant.
If after all that food, you want to stay overnight, there are lovely renovated bungalows that can sleep up to six people each.
Biankini Beach at the Dead Sea
Contact: 02-940-0266 or biankini.co.il
The writer was a guest of the resort.