River: The Israeli Asian food chain's new Beersheba branch - review

Not all River branches are kosher but several are and the newest one most definitely is – making it an attractive proposition, even for Netanya residents like us.

 River Beersheba. (photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)
River Beersheba.
(photo credit: ASSAF KARLA)

River is a long-established chain of Asian restaurants with a new branch recently opened in Beersheba, the 15th in number.

Not all River branches are kosher but several are and the newest one most definitely is – making it an attractive proposition, even for Netanya residents like us.

It took one and a quarter hours to get there and we quickly found the place as it is situated in a very modern and shiny new mall in the local Cinema City compound.

We decided that a Sunday lunch would be the most convenient time to visit this particular River restaurant and arrived at about 12.45 with heightened appetites after the long drive.

Sushi in the South: What was the Beersheba River like?

THE RESTAURANT is spacious with a high ceiling, black drapes and a natural wood floor. There are synthetic but cheerful trees, background music so subtle one could barely hear it and comfortable niche seating on banquettes upholstered in vivid turquoise.

 River Beersheba. (credit: ASSAF KARLA) River Beersheba. (credit: ASSAF KARLA)

Our waiter, Eyal, offered to help with the all-Hebrew electronic menu but we managed and explained that in our 15th year of aliyah it would be a busha (disgrace) if we needed help with the menu.(Busha also what a lot of the demonstrators yell.)

Our first course was decided the moment my companion clapped eyes on the magic words “chicken wings”, and we ordered these together with some sushi, as a first course.

The wings were indeed delicious, hot, crispy and sweet, but not over-sweet with plenty of tender chicken under the coating. As a very large number of wet wipes appeared with the wings we assumed they were meant to be eaten with our hands. However, my companion, as usual, used a knife and fork to consume every morsel of meat on the bones. I suppose when you are used to cutting up people, as a surgeon, cutting up chicken is – well – chicken feed. (NIS 44).

The sushi was, as sushi always is, aesthetic – a perfect little package of rice, seaweed, avocado and raw tuna, enhanced by soy sauce. (NIS 54).

Yet another starter was the dish of “cigars” filled with finely chopped meat in a yellow sauce of curry with corn cream. They were hot, and the filo pastry was as crispy as could be. (NIS 49).

Next to arrive was a bowl of perfectly cooked basmati rice with beef on skewers. The very tender beef had been seasoned with a mix of spices and on the side was a large helping of julienned radish with a lot of the sharpness extracted to make it more edible.

Finally, Eyal brought us a plate of Denis fish fillets in a curry sauce with crunchy snow peas, tomatoes and fried potato. The fish was very fresh and lightly fried. (NIS 76).

For our penultimate course we had a dessert, lemon and raspberry mousse on a chocolate base with forest fruits. I could have done without the lashings of faux pareve cream but liked the touch of gold leaf.

And the ultimate course? A pot of Japanese peach tea in a pretty teapot and double glazed glasses so you could hold the hot tea and not burn your hand.

During the meal we drank Japanese Karin Ichiban beer (NIS 30) and Sprite Zero (NIS 14).

The restaurant does some amazing cocktails but it was too early in the day to indulge in these.

It took over two hours to get home – no demos stopped us, just many cars with the same idea. We listened to our favorite channels on the radio – Reshet Bet to hear the news and Kol Hamusica to try and dull the pain of it, and we both agreed that the long journey was well worth the effort.

River, Hita St., 1Cinema City Complex, Beersheva.053 6816010Open: Sunday – Wednesday – 12 – 23h.Thursday: 12 – 24h.Saturday – one and a half hours after Shabbat.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.