(photo credit: ANATOLI MICHAELO)
Most of the times one goes to a restaurant for the food, but on other times you may choose a restaurant for its location. Dinings rates high in the second category, but the food is excellent as well.
Located on the third floor of the Norman Hotel in Tel Aviv, Dinings really emanates that intimate flavor, with its Japanese minimalist setting and sushi chefs on display so diners can delight in watching their artistic skills. Seating is available at the bar, in the main dining room and on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline.
The menu created by chef Doron Levy rises above and beyond the realm of simply sushi. It is a unique blend of traditional izakaya-style Japanese tapas and modern European cuisine. It offers a large variety for sushi lovers and non-sushi lovers alike. It includes soups, tempuras, salads, makis, hand rolls, sashimis and much more.
Before the entrées appeared, we cleansed our palates with a couple of refreshing cocktails and enjoyed some edamame with a spicy citrus dip.
First up were the Sakizuke Nibbles, featuring tartar chips with a variety of fillings. We tried the salmon with spicy chili miso sauce (NIS 18) and the whitefish with jalapeno mayonnaise (NIS 20). After you pop these bite-sized crunchy delicacies into your mouth, they simply burst with flavor.
This was followed by whitefish carpaccio “Usu-zukuri” with pickled shallots and yuzu ginger soy (NIS 74). I’m not sure where they source their fish from, but the quality was exceptional. The sea bass was marvelously tender and hardly required chewing. Each ingredient spoke for itself, enhanced by a light sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
Next up were mini steamed burger buns served with beef teriyaki (NIS 42). The bun itself had great texture, while the beef was perfectly seasoned, tender and not overly chewy. I could probably have eaten at least five.
We were then served the seared beef fillet tataki with jalapeno ponzu and crispy soba (NIS 75). Tataki is a typical Japanese preparation in which beef or fish is seared on the outside, left very rare inside and thinly sliced. You could see the marbling on each beautiful slice of beef. The ponzo sauce made the meat even juicier – really great flavor combo and texture.
The variety of sushi at Dinings appears endless, and we sampled some of the most interesting combinations. Most of the rolls are six pieces, but for most you can order half. We began with the spicy tuna open roll with spicy sesame sauce and shichimi pepper (NIS 74). The tuna was perfect in texture, almost buttery. You could tell that it was a fatter, richer cut of the tuna rather than the lean, tasteless part that many restaurants use.
This was followed by the crispy whitefish roll with jalapeno mayonnaise and sweet soy (NIS 58). Not only was it beautiful in presentation, but it had great flavor and balance. The inari added a nice crunchy texture to the roll. I would go back just to eat that roll.
Last but not least was the seared salmon tataki roll with sweet miso (NIS 72). The rice was just the right level of sticky and slightly sweet. The fish and vegetable fillings were fresh and colorful.
Dinings is not a cheap restaurant; in fact, it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum. However, it’s worth every penny. We will definitely go back to sample even more of the delicious dishes and revisit some of the wonderful flavors we can still savor.
The Norman Hotel, 25 Nahmani Street, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 543-5444
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