We hardly go to restaurants these days. With everything going on in the country, it doesn’t seem right somehow. So when we do, we look for a special spot, and we found one in Tel Aviv’s Jango, the “little sister” of Shila, chef and restaurateur Sharon Cohen’s acclaimed restaurant.
Celebrating two years, the wine bar, located across the street from Shila, on Ben-Yehuda Street, is owned by the same chef, and, as we witnessed, he seems to jump from one kitchen to the other, crossing the street often to watch over the kitchen and welcome his guests, stopping to chat and make sure everyone is happy.
The wine bar is serene and elegant, with white tablecloths and smiling, knowledgeable waiters, who seem oblivious to the rubble in the nearby gutted street, due to the never-ending work on the metro.
Getting a meal at Tel Aviv's Jango wine bar
We arrived in the early hours of the evening. The sun was just setting. The cool breeze from the Mediterranean and the tanned tourists strolling down the street, looking for a place to have dinner, made us feel as if we were on vacation.
Jango is a haven for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. It seems that Cohen is trying his best, and succeeds in defying the inherent lack of elegance of Tel Aviv, serving elegant dishes with meticulous attention to detail, exquisite presentation and an emphasis on high-quality ingredients and innovative cooking methods.
The standards at Jango are as high as at Shila. The menu is based on fresh fish, as well as a few meat dishes, and the wine menu is very precise, offering the best of Israeli wines, as well as selected wines from across the Mediterranean.
Jango was hosting a young chef, Tom Levy, winner of Chef Games, who offered 12 new dishes, added to the regular menu.
“I enjoy giving the stage to such talented people,” said chef Cohen, adding that “Shila was always an anarchist, uncommitted to any genre or language.”
Dinner at Jango can start with the Royal Platter consisting of oyster, caviar, raw fish or poached shrimp. My dinner partner cannot resist oysters or poached shrimp, so he chose the Gillardeau oyster – fermented habanero and mango cream (NIS 39). He said it was excellent and very precise, unlike any oyster he had tried before.
Another delicious starter is the tiny, pretty and flavorful Krustader, filled with fish tartare, yuzu aioli, ginger, chili, shallots, wasabi peas and ponzu gel cream, all packed in a bite-size form that is the best finger food you could imagine (NIS 32). I asked for one. The restaurant sent two – and my companion agreed happily. Wow.
Next I ordered an amazing sea fish ceviche with parsley, mint, cilantro, white corn and dashi foam, grapes, basil oil, fried almonds and purple basil flowers – a fresh and complex dish that offered different tastes in every bite and still remained coherent and tantalizing, a perfect opening to any dinner (NIS 78).
We chose two glasses of white wine – one Sauvignon Blanc and one dry Riesling, by the boutique Sphera Winery, which specializes in exquisite white wines from the Judean Hills. I love their wines, and was very happy Jango made them its wine of the month.
Next came a ravishingly beautiful dish of shrimp ravioli, with mascarpone, chestnut cream, bisque and milk foam. The dish was so beautiful I didn’t want to break into the ravioli. Finally, after taking pictures, we did. And the flavors were as good as they looked (NIS 68).
Not really full but very satisfied, we wanted to wait and wash down the rich yet delicate flavors with another glass of Sphera wines, while contemplating what to order next.
Finally the decision was made, and we ordered one Yaki scallops with caramelized onion foam, crab bisque foam and chestnuts (NIS 78), and one larger dish of sea bass and grilled white corn with dashi, Jerusalem artichoke chips and fried za’atar (NIS 88).
Again, the dishes were perfect. It is hard to describe how well the flavors blend, what happens in the mouth with such delicate nuances of flavor and aromas. I will let you imagine. My dinner companion said the fish was the best he had eaten in many years.
Other visiting chefs to be featured at Jango include David Shoshan (June 18-21) and Liron Greenberg and Tchelet Fortmann (June 25-28).
Jango wine bar155 Ben-Yehuda StreetTel AvivTel: (03) 522-1224Open 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m.Not kosherhttps://ontopo.co.il/jangowinebar
The writer was a guest of the restaurant