Nini Hachi: A Japanese treat in Tel Aviv

 (photo credit: LIORA SANDLER)
(photo credit: LIORA SANDLER)
Recently, we were in Tel Aviv and looking for a good, kosher restaurant to celebrate my niece’s birthday. Someone recommended Nini Hachi, and we called to reserve a table for lunch.

It was a lovely day, and we decided to sit outside. It is very spacious, both inside and out, and has a separate takeaway section next door, lined with bikes ready to deliver across the city.

The meaning of the name, by the way, is the street number in Japanese: Ben-Yehuda Street 228 (2=ni, 2=ni, 8=hachi).

A young man gave us menus, and then it seemed like he had forgotten about us, but when he came back 20 minutes later, he was pleasant and helpful.

We decided to order three appetizers, which all turned out to be delicious: Edamame (NIS 18), Agadashi Tofu, which is fried tofu
cubes with nori seaweed and scallions in a Japanese soy sauce (NIS 32) and tuna maki (NIS 29).

We washed it all down with a refreshing iced fruit tea, and then ordered our main dishes: Pad Tai, which is rice noodles with vegetables, tofu, sprouts, peanuts fried with egg, and ranges from vegetarian and salmon to chicken and beef (NIS 41-48), Coconut curry, which is egg noodles and vegetables with coconut milk, red curry and peanut butter, and the same options from vegetarian to beef (also NIS 41-48) and a fresh salmon sandwich, which comprises four triangles of salmon and avocado fried in tempura, with teriyaki sauce (NIS 48).

It was so good – and reasonable – that we even ordered sushi and noodles to take home for the rest of the family.

Among the restaurant’s other specialties are Yoshi Toshi (spice yellowtail, avocado and ginger wrapped in salmon skin, for NIS 46), IL Donuts (rice and sesame mix, wrapped in salmon and avocado, for NIS 42), and Kobayashi (salmon in tempura, avocado and crunchy beets with chives on top, for NIS 42).

The soups, especially the miso (traditional), Tom Ka Ka (Thai) and Ramen (noodles), all looked superb, ranging in price from NIS 19 to NIS 39.

The restaurant also has a range of vegetarian food, including a tofu roll wrapped in avocado (NIS 19-28) and Maki Salad, six pieces of assorted vegetables wrapped in rice paper (NIS 32). There are also a number of vegan and gluten-free options.

One of the specialties that I’ve heard is really yummy, if you like spicy food, is Bamboo Curry, which is vegetarian or chicken with red curry sauce, bamboo shoots, eggplant and basil, served on steamed rice (NIS 48-55).

And if you’re really hungry and adventurous, you might try their Fish Combination (20 pieces of crunchy tuna, salmon avocado, yellow tail and crunchy beats) for NIS 96, the Only Salmon (18 pieces of salmon avocado, salmon avocado maki, salmon nigiri and salmon sashimi) for NIS 105, or the Pregnant Combo for Two (36 pieces of salmon caterpillar, tempura bass, vegetable rainbow, forest roll and fried salmon sandwich) for NIS 168.

Speaking of pregnancy, Nini Hatchi, together with the Department of Food Quality and Safety, says it has developed a process for preparing pregnancy-safe sushi that does not come in contact with raw fish. The restaurant has dedicated a separated work surface for this purpose, with separated utensils and a rolling mat just for pregnancy-safe sushi.

It’s close to the Tel Aviv beach and a string of Thai massage places on Ben-Yehuda Street, if you need to relax before or after the meal. As they say in Japanese, Itadakimasu!

Nini Hachi
228 Ben-Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 624-9228
Kashrut: Tel Aviv Rabbinate