Feast from the East

If you will it, it is no dream – kosher Chinese food is for real at Maccabim’s Beijing.

chinese food 311 (photo credit: Sarah Nadav)
chinese food 311
(photo credit: Sarah Nadav)
Like all good New York Jews, I love Chinese food. Sadly, in Israel, I have always been disappointed by Chinese restaurants – that is, until today when I ate at Beijing. To say that my meal was surprisingly good would be an understatement. Every bite was taken and the plates were licked clean. By the time we left, my dining partner and I were completely stuffed.
Despite the fact that Beijing has been open for almost a decade, it definitely lacks the recognition that it deserves. It is the kind of place that you could pass right by if you were not paying attention and that would be a true shame (truth be told, we actually did pass by it and had to double back).
The décor has a simple color palette of black, white and grey with red and orange oriental accents. The setting is clean and straightforward, nothing really special, nothing that would even hint to the explosion of taste, texture and flavor which was about to come our way.
We were greeted by Shai Nidam, the brother of the restaurant’s owner, Ron. They opened the place 10 years ago and Chinese and Thai chefs created the original menu. The chefs also taught the brothers how to prepare authentic Asian cuisine. As was the case in the beginning, Shai and Ron use only fresh food brought in daily, make all of their own sauces and their own dough for wontons and eggrolls and use only soup stocks made from fresh chicken and vegetables. Each dish is made to order and they will adjust every plate to the needs of their customers, including special dietary needs like gluten or nut allergies.
We started with soups (NIS 20-25). The first soup that I tried was the corn and I was not impressed. My dining partner thought that kids would love it but I found it too sweet. Then I tasted the hot and sour soup and I was in love – I couldn’t stop, which is especially impressive because I usually think of hot and sour soup as a starchy brown goop with soggy tofu. This was the antithesis. It was a rose-colored slightly sour broth with crisp fresh vegetables and large deep fried noodles – it was just spicy enough to heat up the back of my throat but still leave my palate clear to enjoy the myriad of flavors. Then they brought out the wonton soup with its clear chicken broth and homemade wontons and I didn’t want to stop eating that either. It was at this point when I realized that this was going to be a terrific meal.
The eggrolls (NIS 25 for two) were served on a bed of cabbage, and though they were deep fried they were surprisingly light.
Next we were served an amuse-bouche of crispy deep fried wontons with pineapple, sauted onion and sweet and sour sauce (NIS 30 for a serving of nine). The crunch and the sweet combined to give the effect of eating pop rocks – the crunch just kept exploding, sending the sweetness shooting in different directions in my mouth.
As for the main course dishes, my favorites were the chicken with chili and garlic sauce (NIS 49) and the chicken with lemon sauce (NIS 49). Their noodles Beijing style (NIS 40) were good, and the fried rice (NIS 24) was fine but not so exciting.
When I didn’t think that I could take another bite they brought out adessert of deep fried banana and pineapple (NIS 25) sprinkled withroasted coconut and served on a plate drizzled with maple syrup. Simplyput, it was delicious.
The meal was finished with a cup of steaming hot jasmine tea which isimported from Paris. The whole flowers floated in our teapot, expandingand giving their fragrance over to the tea which we promptly enjoyed.
Shai recently came back from a trip to Japan where he studied sushimaking in Tokyo and he told us that they are planning to set up a sushibar soon. With their high standards and uncompromising dedication tofresh, authentic and delicious food I am sure that it will be fantasticand I plan on going back to find out.
Beijing Chinese Restaurant is locatedat Renanim Commercial Center, Maccabim (in the Modiin Area). (08)926-2212, Take Away: 1-800-264-111. Kashrut Rabbanut. For more infovisit www.rest.co.il/beijing.