(photo credit: Courtesy)
A few months ago, all of my Facebook foodie friends started raving about a new Asian fusion restaurant in Beit Neqofa just outside Jerusalem called Naya. It seemed like every day there were new mouthwatering pictures of sushi, sashimi and stir-fry dishes. I added Naya to the list of new restaurants to try, and finally got there a few weeks ago.
Naya means “barn” in Japanese and the restaurant is large and square. It can seat 220 diners at a time. On a recent early Monday night when we arrived at 7, the space was half-full, but quickly filled up and was packed when we left. I definitely suggest making reservations.
The décor is modern, with beautiful dishes imported from Japan. The mood is laid-back with diners spanning the range from middle-aged foodies to hipsters. Some had their heads covered; others wore jeans and sunglasses. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
The concept is Asian fusion, meaning some of the dishes come from Japan, and others from China, Vietnam or even Indonesia.
Co-owner Sagiv Amzaleg suggested we begin our meal with cocktails. Amzaleg, by the way is a serious fan of single-malt scotch and Naya offers more than 20 types of Scotch at a well-stocked bar. I chose the Szechuan Side Car (NIS 56) with cognac, raspberry, lime and fresh Szechuan pepper among the ingredients. My companion went “healthy,” with a Coconut Mule (NIS 56), a green concoction with rum, lime, basil, cilantro and cucumber.
I am a big fan of sushi, but I couldn’t stop looking at the Sashimi Garden (NIS 74) that was brought to the next table. I also rationalized that eating sashimi instead of sushi would leave me more room to try dishes from other parts of the menu.
The Sashimi Garden is visually stunning and delicious. Thick-cut fresh slices of tuna, salmon and yellowtail are served on a bed of crushed ice. The fish melted in my mouth. While I didn’t try the sushi, there were some unique rolls offered including the Rinay (NIS 56) with salmon tartar, avocado and sweet potato in tempura, wrapped in seared salmon with teriyaki, spicy mayonnaise, tempura chips, sweet potato and green onion.
The menu is extensive and divided into several sections including Raw, Salads, Naya Starters, Asian Broths, Nakopan, Grilled and Steamed, Noodles, Rice, and Naya Sushi. The menu in English has very few mistakes although a Pho Ga (a traditional Vietnamese soup with “severed chicken” did give me pause.)
After our sashimi, we chose Hong Kong Gyoza (NIS 46) described as “steamed and seared pastry stuffed with chicken, shitake mushrooms, green onion, ginger and spicy soy sauce. Amzaleg told me that they had bought a special machine in Japan that steams the gyoza on one side and fries it on the other as they do in Japan. The portion is four spring rolls and I was splitting each dish with my companion, that should mean we each would eat two of the square gyoza. Well, that’s not what happened. It was so delicious, I stole one of my husband’s gyoza while he was busy with the soup – a Ramen with a deep flavorful broth, shredded chicken and noodles (NIS 52). Lucky we’ve been married a long time!
We then shared an order of Cantonese Rice which also had corn, chopped beans, egg, chopped chicken, smoked goose, roasted panko, coconut and crispy shallots (NIS 72). It was a large portion and crispy and delicious.
Last but not least was the Entrecote in a Korean pepper marinade (NIS 136). The steak was tender and the marinade had a deep umami flavor. We were given a choice of potatoes or green vegetables alongside the steak. We chose the vegetables which included crunchy pea pods, mushrooms and asparagus.
Although pretty full by now, we couldn’t pass on dessert. We asked to share one dessert and the friendly server brought us a large bowl of cream with fresh lychees and strawberries on top of a Pavlova. A light, fresh way to end the meal.
A word about the servers. They looked like they were really enjoying their work. Armed with iPads on which they took down the orders, they knew the menu well and were enthusiastic about the different dishes, asking us about how spicy we like our food (not much, think Ashkenazi) and if we had specific likes or dislikes.
I am already planning my next visit to Naya.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Kashrut: Rabbanut Mateh Yehuda
Beef is Halak Beit Yosef, chicken is mehadrin, and vegetables are Gu
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>