A is for Asian, ambience – and effort

Frangelico in Jerusalem serves up sushi with style and a smile.

A is for Asian, ambience – and effort (photo credit: Courtesy)
A is for Asian, ambience – and effort
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For me, my birthday is always a very special occasion, which I duly celebrate by making a party. As it happened, this year I had to work late on the appointed day, so I couldn’t make a party that night. So imagine my delight when I was invited to try out a sushi restaurant that had opened recently in Jerusalem. So off I went with a close friend to the new branch of the Frangelico chain for a celebratory meal.
Tucked away at the end of Shlomzion Hamalka Street, Frangelico does not reveal on the outside the sophistication it exudes on the inside. The intimate interior is dimly lit, with soft jazz playing in the background. A black oval bar takes up the central part of the main floor, surrounded by small black tables and chairs that hug the curvature of the picture windows. These are enhanced by elegant black drapes tied to the side. Behind a glass pane at the far end of the room, a sushi chef displays his talents as he prepares each dish made to order. The upstairs section has more of a lounge effect, with computers at the six tables to showcase the restaurant’s ample fare.
The menu is, in fact, enormous. The large, laminated double-sided roster (in English) of Asian specialties ranges from sushi (NIS 25-56), nigiri (NIS 18- 22), sashimi (NIS 36) and dim sum (NIS 36) to platters of noodle (NIS 47- 56) and rice dishes (NIS 51-52), as well as some more expensive combinations. What came as a real surprise as I perused the menu was the section of main courses. It includes hamburgers and French fries (NIS 52), schnitzel (NIS 52), grilled chicken (NIS 52), chicken nuggets in beer dough (NIS 56), white fish (NIS (89) and entrecote (NIS 99). And there is a children’s menu as well (NIS 44).
But as Asian food is the spécialité de la maison, my dining partner and I relegated our choices to that realm. Our amiable waitress Avia started us off with a plate of six maki with tuna (NIS 30). These sushi slices were filled with rice, tuna, avocado and carrot, coated with warm fried panko and served with two dipping sauces. Delicious. This was followed by another plate of six cold maki-san discs, this time with tuna, avocado and green onion, coated with a ground peanut crust (NIS 36). Very good.
As we deliberated about what to order next, Aviad the bartender offered us each a cocktail. Very proud of the 10 cocktails he whips up, he served us a Catalan Sea Breeze and a Frangelico Apple. Both were pretty, pleasant and potent. While we sipped our drinks, another congenial waitress brought us a small plate of tasty Moroccan-style cigars filled with entrecote, served with a salad of cilantro and caramelized peanuts.
For the main dish, my companion and I shared the Frangelico noodles with salmon and vegetables in teriyaki sauce, as well as a small plate of delectable little dim sum dumplings – two filled with mushrooms and two with chicken (NIS 36 for three). While the noodle dish was a little too sweet for my companion’s taste, I enjoyed it very much.
When it came time for dessert, we’d had our fill and declined to have any, though I did find out what Frangelico has to offer in that regard (there was no dessert menu). On offer that night were chocolate soufflé with ice cream (NIS 36); Bounty – chocolate, coconut and vanilla ice cream (NIS 34); and Ferro Rocher – chocolate mousse with nuts (NIS 36).
As we had our coats on and were ready to leave, Avia approached our table and said, “What? No dessert?”
“No,” I smiled.
“Not even for your birthday? Just a taste,” she insisted.
Well, who were we to argue at that point? So we sat back down and awaited the last hurrah.
It was well worth waiting for. Avia arrived and lit a sparkler on what looked like a plate of sushi and a small bowl of soy sauce, but in fact it was six slices of vanilla ice cream surrounded by cake encrusted with coconut, with a sliver of chocolate in the middle, all of which was to be dipped in the bowl of chocolate syrup. How delightful, how delicious and how thoughtful!
It is that kind of service, fine food and attention to detail that puts Frangelico high on my list of places that deserve many (happy) returns of the day.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Frangelico, Kosher 18 Shlomzion Hamalka, Jerusalem Tel: (02) 570-2525