I make no apologies for reviewing Minato for the third time in four years. Japanese food is just so great. It’s considered less popular than Chinese, and there aren’t that many kosher options. On the other hand, there is a general consensus that Japanese is healthier – less frying, less sugar and the use of natural ingredients make it better for you than the Chinese counterpart.
We visited the Herzliya branch of Minato and decided to make it a lunch rather than a dinner. The place was busy with families, young couples, hi-techies on lunch break and even a mother and her friend with the baby in a buggy next to her.
Three Asian gentlemen work continuously behind a bar, rolling, patting and filling the signature sushi, which is a large part of the menu.
What's on the menu at Minato?
We had sake (Japanese rice wine as a kind of cocktail), accompanied by a dish of edamame (soy beans in the pods) to assuage the hunger pangs until real food appeared (NIS 40).
The service was quick and efficient, and before long our starters had appeared – a bowl of hot mushrooms for me and tuna tartare for my companion.
The mushroom dish was rather bland, even though it was made from several different fungi, but the addition of soy sauce soon brought it to life (NIS 50).
My companion’s raw tuna dish was exceptionally good. The fish was creamy, garnished with avocado and topped with crispy tempura crumbs (NIS 101).
The Japanese beer, which we drank throughout our meal, was Kirin Ichiban, a light ale, which was nicely cold and refreshing.
For his main course my companion (and now official photographer) had “Matsuri” – very slightly seared salmon steak with onion ponzu, a classic Japanese condiment giving a tart-tangy flavor. The dish came with avocado, asparagus, wasabi, mayonnaise and salmon “caviar,” fish eggs, as real caviar isn’t kosher, sadly (NIS 75).
He managed to eat the whole delicious concoction with the chopsticks provided, even if it meant eating the caviar one ball at a time.
I just had a plate of sushi – one of my favorite foods, as it is aesthetic, nourishing and easy to eat, and I love the combination of flavors (NIS 60-85).
After this I was replete and unable to eat a serious main course. Having no such inhibitions, my companion managed to down a dish of entrecote steak and asparagus in tare sauce (a variation on soy). The dish is called Gyo Kushi and was dubbed superb.
Desserts at Minato consist of mochi (parve) ice cream in a glutinous rice-based coating (NIS 38). There were three flavors – pineapple, hazelnut and passion fruit. The ice creams were good and the presentation original, to say the least.
Finally we drank two green teas, which succeeded in returning us from Tokyo to Herzliya in several agreeable gulps.
For authentic and delicious Japanese food, Minato is hard to beat.
Minato8 HamenofimHerzliya PituahTel: (09) 773-1703Open: Sunday-Thursday, 12 noon-11 p.m.; Friday, closed; Saturday night – after Shabbat until 11 p.m.Kashrut: Herzliya Rabbinate
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.