Charms of the Orient

Asia Monica in Hod Hasharon offers wonderful Oriental dishes, as well as American grilled meats, kids’ favorites and warm hospitality.

Asia Monica 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Asia Monica 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On a trip to Italy a few years back, my wife and I decided to stray from the highways and go for a ride in rural Emilia-Romagna, also known as Italy’s gastronomic center. We didn’t have a plan and went where the beautiful road took us. Noon arrived and we got very hungry in the middle of nowhere.
There was a small gas station, and we decided to grab something small in what looked not very promising. The chairs were plastic and the tables saw better days, the waitress was a middle-aged woman who couldn’t speak English and the place looked very uninviting, so we decided to play it safe and ordered two pasta dishes.
We were invited to enjoy the antipasti bar and got the surprise of our lives.
We paid a lot of money on that trip eating in the recommended places – but the lunch we had in that gas station was the one we enjoyed the most.
Now Asia Monica is no gas station restaurant, far from it. But when given directions to the restaurant, we thought “What can you expect from a place that is located in a shopping area and serves a vast menu that offers both Thai-Vietnamese- Japanese cuisine and grilled meats?” But again we were too quick to judge.
The location, at the new Sharonim Center, is actually very convenient – easy to find, with a spacious parking area and a really nice playground nearby, a good point when looking for a place to eat with kids.
The owners are experienced and successful restaurateurs Daniel Zach (Carmela Banahala) and David Zehut (Angelina). The cuisine they chose is fresh and exciting and caters to many different tastes, which make it a place for all seasons, so to speak.
The leading tone is the Asian in the design and the menu. There are many starters, from sushi to Thai salads, to rolls, Oriental soups and noodle dishes, as well as great steaks and burgers.
We miss having really good Thai food, so we were drawn to the starters, and quite honestly they were the best dishes we tried. If you like spicy, exciting tastes, you may be advised to stick to the starters and try as many of them as you can. We were offered a tasting of many starters, and all of them were great.
We absolutely loved the chicken herb salad, (NIS 32) enough to ask for the recipe (not easy…), we loved the Vietnamese spring roll (NIS 28) made with rice pastry filled with fresh and crispy vegetables and served with tasty sauce. We enjoyed the Agadashi soup with mushrooms and chicken dumplings and the green papaya salad (Sum Tam), which was almost authentic but not quite spicy enough. Another excellent starter was the pop shrimps (NIS 38), deep fried and crispy, we bet it is one of the popular dishes here.
You can find all the usual suspects here – the Pad Thai, so loved by Israelis, Tom Yam soup and more, but we urge you to get adventurous – it is worth it. Sushi lovers will be satisfied as well, and although we were very happy with the Thai food, we also got a taste of one sushi dish that was very good and fresh.
All the main dishes are very large and if you had a few starters, one will be enough for two people. We had the Pad Kapau, a very typical Thai dish that we thought wasn’t hot enough but to most Israeli palates will probably be hot enough. It’s a huge portion, and we couldn’t finish it, Our host insisted on giving us a taste of the meats as well, so we tried the entrecote steak (NIS 120), which was good – but we were so full, it was wasted on us.
We don’t usually order dessert, but we did taste the tapioca and coconut milk pudding and tropical fruit salad.
Both were good, light and refreshing.
We accompanied the meal with green tea and one Synja Thai beer.
Asia Monica is definitely a good place for families and large groups from the area, as well as for lunches with kids, but not only. As we discovered, it is also a very nice place for a quiet dinner for two, especially for those like us who miss the Oriental cuisine as much as we do.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Asia Monica, 2 Harakun St. Sharonim Center, Hod Hasharon, 057- 944-4164, Sun-Sat noon to midnight. Not kosher