Dunya in Ashkelon: A world of flavor

I took the opportunity to have lunch at the Ashkelon branch of Dunya, one of a chain of restaurants created by chef Meir Adoni, in partnership with local chef Amir Asidon.

By LINDA GRADSTEIN
September 5, 2019 10:21
2 minute read.
Dunya in Ashkelon: A world of flavor

Dunya. (photo credit: Courtesy)

I don’t usually think of Ashkelon as a foodie destination. However, invited to the 60th birthday party of a good friend, I took the opportunity to have lunch at the Ashkelon branch of Dunya, one of a chain of restaurants created by chef Meir Adoni, in partnership with local chef Amir Asidon.

The Ashkelon Marina has taken off as a destination, and there are a series of restaurants with a view of the sea, some are kosher, some – mostly because they are open on Shabbat – are not. Dunya is among the kosher choices.
Our waitress, Nohav, knew the menu well and suggested we share the eggplant carpaccio (NIS 42) as a first course. The menu has quite a few vegan choices, including this one, and most of the meat dishes can be ordered with a vegan option as well, for a lower price.

The thinly sliced smoked eggplant was seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, sumac, pistachios, date honey and raw tahini, and knocked it out of the park. It was lovely to look at and delicious to eat. My companion (an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years) and I kept murmuring “Mmm, this is really good,” as we scooped up the thin slices. I could easily have eaten another serving.
For the main course, I told Nohav I was debating between the slow roasted shpondra (NIS 65) – which is “dispersed” asado meat with smoked chipotle vinaigrette served inside Moroccan bread – and the stuffed grape leaves-cabbage-onion pan, which can be ordered with lamb kebab (NIS 64) or vegan (NIS 52). She took one look at my blue eyes and light skin and asked with a smile, “Do you like spicy food?” “Not very spicy,” I answered. “The shpondra is “picanti-plus,” she said, which helped make my decision for the stuffed vegetables.

I chose to order the dish with meat, but like many of Adoni’s dishes, the meat is an accompaniment rather than the star of the dish. The small kebabs and the stuffed vegetables came in a rich tomato sauce. My companion chose the homemade sweet potato and lamb ragout tortellini (NIS 64), which is also available in a vegetarian version (NIS 54).

There were other interesting options like Istanbul Alleys Kebab (NIS 69), a mixture of veal, lamb, onions and parsley on a grilled bagel with white tahini, tomato salsa, pistachios, sumac and sea souvlaki (NIS 69), a type of fish shwarma that the menu describes as “slices of sea fish burned on the plancha with a mixture of spices roasted tomato and pepper salad, lima beans musabaha, and grilled tomato salsa.”

Nohav also convinced us to share a dessert: a Mediterranean mille feuille (NIS 42) which was a pastry made of kadaif with malabi cream, pistachios, cranberries, date honey and coconut chips. I don’t usually like malabi, but this dessert was simply amazing. Highly recommended.

Dunya
Hanamal St. 9, Ashkelon
Phone: 08-686-9199
Kashrut: Rabbanut
Sun-Thu: 12 noon-11 p.m. Fri: 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday: From one hour after Shabbat
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.


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