Kosher restaurant food for the extended lockdown

Ethnic and fast foods compete for your delivery order while you’re at home

Ewa Safi (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ewa Safi
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ewa Safi

This upscale restaurant-lounge, an offshoot of its much simpler parent eatery in the central bus station, has long been popular in Tel Aviv among aficionados of Moroccan cuisine (it was reviewed on these pages years ago). I have come to think of it as Moroccan comfort food presented as fine dining – or, as the restaurant itself terms it – Moroccan soul food.

Now that it has been closed during the pandemic, Ewa Safi has sprung into action with an extensive delivery menu, comprising no fewer than six sections: Starters/Mezze (NIS 9-12, or an assortment of eight for NIS 49); Intermediate Dishes (NIS 39-89); Main Courses (NIS 69-148); From the Grill (just one entry: NIS 49); Specialty (again only one: NIS 89); and Desserts (NIS 38-42). Each category offers (rather limited) vegan options, but gluten-free dishes abound.

I had no problem finding at least one dish from each of the aforementioned categories that I truly enjoyed. There were a number of notable appetizers/salads from the platter called Salada (marked “popular” – in English – on the Hebrew delivery menu), in particular, the traditional beet salad, the carrot salad (houja, cooked chunks), and Mama Sulica’s ruby-red matbouha, with just the right amount of heat.

My favorite dish from the second section – lyrically titled in the Hebrew menu “there is no second (chance) for a first impression” – is without a doubt the lamb pastilla, considered by the owners the “queen of the kitchen.” This slightly sweet gem features the thinnest imaginable crispy phyllo dough filled with juicy slow-cooked lamb. (Unfortunately, the delivery version came without the advertised accompanying candied pumpkin, slivered almonds and pepper-chili confit.) A recommended vegetarian intermediate dish, meanwhile, is the vegetable fritters.

The highlights of the main courses (which the poetic license calls in Hebrew, “Let’s get down to business”) are, understandably, classic Moroccan tajines, such as the Lamb Spareribs glazed with plum and caramelized onion, and the [beef] Shoulder Roast stewed with onion, turmeric and saffron. Both succulent tavshilim came with a side of delicate-grain couscous.

The grilled specialty was boneless pullet pounded thin and seasoned with what might be described as Moroccan “dry rub” – a unique mixture of zesty spices. I liked it both hot and cold.

Amidst this plethora of tantalizing dishes, I simply forgot to order either of the (only) two desserts, sphinge or atayef (the former are akin to Moroccan donuts, the latter to Moroccan crepes). My loss, but this should be a warning to others.

Finally, I must point out that the packaging was the most professional I have ever encountered in my history of receiving delivery orders. The hermetically sealed dishes were not easy to unwrap, but they were absolutely leak-proof; and the dishes were still warm in their plastic containers hours after they arrived.

Ewa Safi

Kosher

HaShahar St. 8, Tel Aviv. Phone: (053) 611-2129

English menu: ewasafi.co.il/en

American Broaster Chicken

I discovered this kosher chain only recently, but was delighted to find it, since I have fond memories of chicken prepared this way in the “old country.” This unique method of cooking is a kind of “steam frying,” a process that keeps the poultry from absorbing too much oil and results in a crispy batter encasing moist and juicy meat.

The Hebrew-only menu is very limited: Its three dishes are wings, “broaster” and nuggets. Pricing is by meal size: Individual (NIS 45-49), Couple (NIS 85-95) and Family (NIS 125-145). There is also a Kids’ Meal, which includes a “surprise” (NIS 39).

Since I was (and remain) a little confused by the chain’s terminology, I ordered by phone, since that seems to be the only option, using my own words: wings and white meat chicken. I was told I was getting chicken breast, and I had hoped it would be a complete quarter-chicken. Instead, I received what I considered to be large nuggets.

Still, I must say I was quite satisfied with the taste, which is a cut above what is commonly available from the larger fast-food chains. The exterior is neither oily nor soggy, and the meat itself quite flavorful.

There were additional pleasant surprises when it came to the sides. The “potatoes” – written and pronounced in Hebrew transliteration, as opposed to the ubiquitous fries, or “chip” – were delicious chunks of what appeared to be twice-baked potato, in their skins (NIS 10).

The menu lists a few salads and sandwiches, but I was most interested in checking out the coleslaw (NIS 5, when ordering a meal), which turned out to be just fine: coarse-cut cabbage (albeit with no carrot) drenched in a creamy dressing. The portion was lamentably tiny, so I augmented at home with diced carrot, green onion and radish.

The menu says there are three desserts (NIS 10 each), but the person at the other end of the line mentioned only malabi, which I declined.

American Broaster Chicken.

Kosher.

Eleven branches nationwide (representative outlet: Azrieli Mall, Tel Aviv).

Tel. 1-700-700-307 (call center). Online menu: broasterchicken.co.il/menu

The writer was a guest of the restaurants.