Restaurant delivery: Spotlight on Asian cuisine

Cafe Taizu and the Giraffe Noodles Bar chain both offer pan-Asian variety.

Taizu Cafe (photo credit: GAL KOLOG)
Taizu Cafe
(photo credit: GAL KOLOG)
 The group of Asian restaurants under the stewardship of Chef Yuval Ben Neria (YBN) – Taizu, Ya Pan (recently shuttered) and Miazaki – have garnered much acclaim over the years. In fact, the flagship Taizu is consistently at the top of the list of best restaurants in Israel, not only within the narrow niche of Asian cuisine, but even when it comes to fine dining in general. 
During these challenging times, YBN has launched a special delivery service, dubbed Cafe Taizu. There are two delivery zones: the city of Tel Aviv and the Gush Dan suburbs. In addition to order minimums, delivery surcharges apply. 
Cafe Taizu operates in tandem with another, truly unique innovation: Taizu Markolit (“market”), which sells and delivers raw ingredients for preparing/cooking select YBN dishes at home, according to recipes that can be downloaded from the website. 
The Cafe Taizu menu features some of the greatest hits from the restaurant’s distinctive Asiaterranean selection, which draws from the cuisines of India, China and Indochina (Vietnam and Thailand), although not Japan. The delivery menu is currently online in Hebrew only, but the restaurant has an English menu that can be used for cross-reference. 
The menu comprises eight sections, with the four main ones named after the aforementioned countries: Thailand (NIS 52-69), Vietnam (NIS 52-56), India (NIS 51-69), and China (42-69). Secondary sections are: Children’s menu (NIS 38), Side dishes (NIS 10) and Desserts (NIS 38). 
Recommended dishes from representative sections start with Spring Rolls (Vietnam), a lighter and more refreshing take on egg rolls, made with translucent leaves of rice paper, wrapped around vegetables and herbs. Accompanied by dipping sauces, the spring rolls served cold make an excellent appetizer. 
Two gluten-free and lactose-free main courses similar in consistency but very different in taste are the Shrimps/Entrecote Bombay (India) and the Penang Curry (Thailand), both served with white rice. The former – a mild, tomato-yogurt curry with a choice of whole shrimps or strips of steak – will transport you to the Asian subcontinent. Local aficionados of Indian food might be pleasantly surprised to learn that arguably the best Indian restaurant in town is Taizu on Sunday evenings, when the menu is dedicated to Indian cuisine.
The Penang Curry, meanwhile, is named after an island in northern Malaysia, which is close enough to the southern Thai border to be considered an authentic Siamese regional dish. I savored this mellow, chocolate-colored, coconut milk-peanut curry with morsels of non-battered fried fish, although other fine protein options include shrimps or tofu.
A vegan dish I enjoyed was the Sesame Noodles (China), with spring onion, broccoli, chili and sprouts in a peanut-Asian tehina-black vinegar sauce. This dish, which was surprisingly slightly spicier than even the curries, also goes well with chicken or tofu that can be added in at home. 
Dessert was the distinctive Paris Brest Toffee Banana: This fusion version fills a Western-style delicate pastry shell with a cream made from a combination of peanut butter and banana marmalade. A sweet indulgence indeed. 
There is also one additional menu section one will find in no other restaurant: Mankai. This microgreen from the duckweed plant that is being hailed as the newest superfood, is the raw ingredient in two dishes, one salad and one dessert (NIS 42/38). 
Finally, there is the Cafe Taizu Brunch, available via delivery Fridays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at a fixed price of NIS 288 per couple. The brunch consists of a choice of four starters (out of seven options), plus two main courses (from a total of five). 
Cafe Taizu 
Not kosher
Menachem Begin St. 23, Tel Aviv. Phone: (03) 522-5005; (077) 230-2509 
Giraffe Noodles Bar launches a new vegan Green Menu
This popular chain specializing in Asian noodles never ceases to add more branches. After expanding from Tel Aviv to suburbs in every direction, new outlets are already planned for Haifa and Eilat. 
The chain has always served vegan/vegetarian dishes, but recently it distilled them into a dedicated Green Menu. Unlike the restaurant menu, this separate menu is not yet in English, but a translation is anticipated when eateries reopen after the current lockdown. 
The Green Menu has also been incorporated into the current delivery menu. Not all the dishes are suitable for delivery, so orders should be based on the appropriate subcategory in the online delivery menu. 
The Green Menu is not divided into categories; rather, the dishes are listed in a logical order, from what may best be described as starters/salads to soups to main courses. For the sake of convenience, I am appending the following unofficial section headings: Appetizers/Sala
ds (NIS 32-37), Soups (NIS 31-39), Veggie sushi (NIS 30-41), Noodles (NIS 56-63) and Main Courses (with rice) (NIS 59-64). 
Recommended dishes from representative sections include: Cucumber-tofu salad in a soy-chili-coriander dressing. In this version of Giraffe’s popular Chicken-tofu salad, the morsels of grilled chicken are replaced by strips of fried tofu, enhanced by a tangy dressing that makes all the difference. 
A different appetizer that makes a great anytime snack are the Portobello Balls: gently fried portobello mushroom combined with leek, served with two dipping sauces: teriyaki and spicy mayonnaise. 
From the flagship noodle section, I tried the Spicy Philippine: egg noodles in a red curry sauce with coconut cream, cubed tofu, spring onion, peanuts and cilantro. I still prefer the best-selling Empress noodles – dubbed the New Empress in the Green Menu – but the Philippines-inspired dish is a worthy alternative for those who like minimalist sauces and a touch of heat. 
Finally, my selection from the main course rice dishes was the Szechuan (faux) “Sirloin” – morsels of soy protein and button mushrooms in a sweet-and-spicy sauce that was more sweet-and-smoky than hot. Still, this was a tasty and memorable version.
Giraffe Noodles Bar
Five branches in Gush Dan
Not kosher
Sample branch: HaManofim St. 9, Herzliya. Phone: (09) 954-8355 
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.