Kamakura: Japanese food in Ramat Gan, Israel - review

Curious to taste authentic Japanese and kosher food, we arrived at the Indigo hotel to a warm welcome from the staff and owners one evening recently.

 Kamakura (photo credit: Miri Gilat)
(photo credit: Miri Gilat)

The love affair between Jews and Chinese food is well-known. But what about Japanese food, a very different kettle of fish?

Having just enjoyed a sensational meal at Kamakura in Ramat Gan, I feel sure that our love for Japanese food can be just as passionate. Of course, there is very little comparison between the two cuisines.

Curious to taste authentic Japanese and kosher food, we arrived at the Indigo hotel to a warm welcome from the staff and owners one evening recently.

The restaurant opened two weeks before COVID hit, closed down and reopened very recently. It’s a hospitable space, warm and intimate, with dark wood frames on the walls enclosing fascinating pictures made from twisted wire.

My companion was persuaded to have a house cocktail, a large glass of something orange, with a miniature pansy on the top. (NIS 45) I decided to go native and drank sake all evening, even though the alcohol content seemed very mild.

 Kamakura (credit: Yona Levine) Kamakura (credit: Yona Levine)

While waiting for our starters, we were served Japanese vegetables to nibble on – pickled fennel, carrot and cucumber, which proved to be good appetite-teasers.

The first course, another pre-starter, arrived at our table. There were two dishes – tuna truffle consisting of chopped raw fish in spicy soy plus a sauce with a very faint taste of the divine fungus, and roasted cabbage in a sweet Goma Kayabatsu sauce, which hinted at peanuts. The almost burnt cabbage had a strong flavor, complemented by the pungent sauce.

The actual starters were Tataki Sirloin and something called Menchi Katsu. The first was sliced rare beef (sirloin) and our helpful waiter explained the correct way to eat this dish is by wrapping a piece of meat in a lettuce leaf and dipping it in the spicy ponzu sauce. (NIS 52)

The second starter was a beef and leek burger, dipped in crumbs, deep-fried and served with hoisin sauce.

For a main course, my companion chose a sirloin steak in garlic teriyaki with shallots and white rice. (NIS 148) It was rare but melted in the mouth like butter. (Forgive the simile.) My choice was Hambadu, a burger with a Ramen egg on Turkish spinach in yakinaku sauce, a strong soy sauce with added ground sesame seeds. (NIS 88)

The burger was very good, and seemed to be made entirely from meat, with no fillers and the Turkish spinach, which tasted just like Israeli spinach, was lightly cooked and still chewy. I could have happily passed on the Ramen egg, which was just too much of a good thing.

Allon, one of the owners, came over to say hello and insisted we must also have desserts. My companion had a chocolate mousse, identical to the one he gets at home, while my dessert was very lemony custard over lemon curd on a crumb base. (Desserts NIS 45)

For the finale of this meal we drank two Japanese teas, not sweet but very refreshing, before departing with full stomachs and sweet memories.

KamakuraIndigo Hotel,Ahaliav Street, Ramat Gan.073 275 3807Kashrut is Tsohar.Open Sunday–Thursday.12 p.m.– 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m.–11:30 p.m.Closed Friday and Shabbat.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.