Kamakura - Meat the Japanese way

Kamakura, at the Indigo Boutique Hotel in Ramat Gan’s diamond district, offers exquisite dishes the likes of which you’ve never tasted before.

Kamakura - an excellent new kosher Japanese meat restaurant (photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
Kamakura - an excellent new kosher Japanese meat restaurant
(photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
Kamakura is like no other restaurant you know. A Japanese meat restaurant? Sounds strange. And kosher as well? 
While most Japanese restaurants in Israel are based on sushi (usually made to please the local palate but having little in common with the original), Kamakura, at the Indigo Boutique Hotel in Ramat Gan’s diamond district, offers exquisite dishes the likes of which you’ve never tasted before.
The restaurant is named after a period in Japanese history known for the emergence of the samurai and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period was also the time when the uniquely Japanese cuisine - which combines meticulously chosen seasonal ingredients that are treated with the utmost respect and patience, and requires cooks to go through very long periods of training - was established.
The Kamakura in Ramat Gan reopened when the corona lockdown was lifted. On the evening we went, the elegant restaurant was full, yet everything was run according to Health Ministry guidelines. Our temperatures were taken at the entrance, we signed a form saying we were healthy, and there was enough space between the tables for appropriate social distancing.
Chef Gilad Dabush told us his main concern is always the taste. “It has has to be tasty and diners must enjoy the food, first and foremost,” he said. 
Formerly from Dinings at the Norman Hotel, Taizu and other high-end Asian restaurants in Tel Aviv and France, Dabush travelled to Japan where he cooked in several local restaurants, including a three-starred Michelin restaurant in southern Japan, where he picked up unique preparation methods and learned about local ingredients. He then travelled across Japan to familiarize himself with cooking techniques of various regional cuisines, and acquired a deep understanding of the different traditions and flavors.
The menu at Kamakura showcases Dabush’s wish to present less-familiar dishes than the more-familiar and complex Japanese cuisine. Dabush said he uses the natural ingredients to get the flavors.
“I try to get the flavors from the ingredients. I get the sweetness from fruits or vegetables, not sugar.” he said, and added that many sauces take days to prepare.
“There are no shortcuts in the real Japanese cuisine. Everything must be done in a certain way.”
The owners of Kamakura have been in the food business for a long time and have a special understanding of what the public wants. They also have a total commitment to quality and pay the utmost attention to details. This includes a special Sake menu – not a common item on most Japanese restaurants in Israel. It’s usually Sake, hot or maybe cold. Here, they will explain the different grades of polished-rice used in the making of the sake which ultimately determine the quality of the beverage.
The menu showcases the chef’s intention to expose local foodies to different Japanese flavors and dishes that most of us are completely unfamiliar with, focusing on the way meat is treated – cooked or pickled, roasted and seared - and on the sophisticated sauces, which can be complex, interesting and very tasty.
Not knowing what to order from the fascinating menu, we let the chef choose for us. We started our Kamakura tasting menu with beef sirloin Tataki seared over Japanese-oak coal and served with touches of hazelnut cream and smoked hazelnut Fonzu sauce (NIS 54). It was a very beautiful and flavorful dish that stimulated our appetites for what was to come next. The pretty slices of sirloin, seared on the outside and perfectly pink inside, with an amazing sauce, were excellent.
Next we got slices of fillet of beef seasoned with a Japanese spice mix and fried in tempura. It was excellent, and served with a small mizuna and porcini salad (NIS 65) that was also very delicious. My companion loves beef tartar, and here it is served on bone marrow, with Tara and shisu sauce, yaki nori seaweed and miso-karashi aioli.
Did you understand all of these names? I bet you didn’t, but believe me the flavors are so surprisingly good you’ll love it (NIS 89). There was another meat dish called Denver cut – a part of the beef which is not extremely popular because it calls for long cooking and is not very tender – but like many cuts that only the butcher knows about – it is full of flavor. The Denver cut was grilled, sliced and served in what is called Tara sauce with yuzu sauce – again, something we never tasted before and very good (NIS 132).
Another main dish here is the Japanese burger, grilled and served without a bun, but with bok choy, soft-boiled egg and Japanese barbecue sauce (NIS 78).
We were full so could only sample a dish of roasted mulard (a cross between mallard and Muscovy duck) breast with kohlrabi and mandarin, mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) and green onion in a maple-soya sauce (NIS 108) – so good. But we couldn’t eat anymore.
For those looking for more traditional dishes – there is a good selection of fish or meat sushi, Japanese bowls such as sukiyaki chicken with mushroom and soba (buckwheat) noodles, and more.
There are also some vegetarian/vegan options, such as an eggplant steak cooked twice in sweet miso sauce and sesame (NIS39). The staff is very attentive and knowledgeable, and will gladly explain the dishes and help you find something you’ll love.
We didn’t try the dessert menu – but it looked great and according to our host is inspired by the Japanese cuisine.
Whether you eat kosher or not, if you love discovering new flavors, very tasty food and warm hospitality, you should definitely visit the Kamakura.

Kashrut supervised by Tzohar
Indigo Hotel, 5 Ahaliav Street, Ramat Gan
Open Sunday – Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.