Sushi and then some

Minato Herzliya offers a wide range of Japanese fare, with a tempting array of other choices as well.

Minato 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Minato 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Herzliya Pituah industrial zone is home to a variety of high-flying hi-tech companies and has a host of trendy café chains and modern steak restaurants to match the atmosphere. Minato, a more subdued sushi bar, is one of the newer eateries in the area.
A branch of Minato Caesarea, which opened as a purely Japanese restaurant in 2004, Minato Herzliya opened in 2011 and fuses different cooking styles with its mostly Japanese offerings.
We visited Minato on a quiet Wednesday evening. The patrons did not consist of techies and businesspeople but of families and groups of friends. The low-key décor, with wood detail and a bar where diners can eat and watch the chefs prepare the food, lends the atmosphere a relaxed, friendly feel.
While we were waiting for the more substantial offerings, we whetted our appetites with edamame (soybeans in their pods), the Japanese equivalent of olives and focaccia that are served as an opener in Westernstyle restaurants.
Though sushi is the main course, so to speak, for people do not find raw fish appealing or who consider sushi too “foreign,” Minato offers an appetizing range of other dishes, including meat. It was with these that we began our marathon tasting meal.
First up was soup. I went for the miso (NIS 23), while my companion chose the noodle soup (NIS 28). The miso soup was tasty and satisfying, but we both preferred the noodle soup – a fish stock served with soba noodles, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and fresh ginger.
The cold noodle salad (NIS 33) we tasted next was refreshing, and we continued to dip into it as we ate our appetizers, to balance the meat with some vegetables. A mixture of noodles, greens, tamago strips and tofu, the salad was served a little too chilled for my taste.
The hot appetizers at Minato are varied, attractively presented and bursting with flavor. We tried the Shake Kushi, which is salmon and pepper skewers in teriyaki sauce (NIS 30); Tori Karaage, deep-fried chicken in Japanese marinade (NIS 34); Gyu Kushi, entrecote and asparagus skewers in teriyaki sauce (NIS 33); and Tuna Tataki, pan-seared tuna served with ponzu sauce, teriyaki and spicy mayonnaise (NIS 35).
Moving on to the sushi, Minato offers an extensive range of sashimi (slices of fresh raw fish), nigiri (mounds of sushi rice draped with raw fish or tamago), temaki (sushi cones), Hoso-maki (thin rolls with nori on the outside) and inside-out rolls.
There are also the chef’s specials, which are not listed on the menu but include a variety recommended by the chef.
Not wanting to veer too far out of our comfort zone, we turned down the marinated sardines that we were assured were a special of the day and started with sashimi.
A friend once told me that the way she knows she has eaten good sushi is if the meal leaves her with a healthy, clean feeling. That was exactly the way I felt about the selection of sashimi painstakingly presented on ice and decorated with lemon, ginger flowers and red onion strips.
The slices of fresh salmon with fish eggs, tuna and a white fish we were not familiar with were a delight.
Stuffed to the gills but concerned that we hadn’t sampled the sushi rolls most commonly associated with sushi bars, we let the chef surprise us with four types. A mixture of tuna, sea bream and salmon with different vegetables, the colorful rolls were tasteful in appearance and tasty in flavor.
The sushi was served with a blind tasting of three types of sake, which were a little dry for our taste, but the umeshu we were served next, a divine Japanese plum liqueur, more than made up for it. The liqueur had a subtle alcohol taste, was generously sweet but not cloyingly so and was bursting with yummy, plummy overtones.
After a light yet generous sushi meal, dessert seemed somehow out of place, so we turned into the night and agreed that the evening had gone swimmingly.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Minato Herzliya
8 Hamenofim, Herzliya Pituah
(09) 773-1703