An authentic Asian experience

Japanese fare is the real deal at Okinawa in Tel Aviv

Okinawa (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese food experience, Okinawa is as good as it gets.
From the different types of sake to the sushi, the restaurant nails every detail. Opened just a few weeks ago, this Oriental gem is located on Tel Aviv’s Levontin Street (its sister restaurant is in Neveh Tzedek).
What appears to be very modest from the outside turns into an impressive, full-scale restaurant the moment you walk through the doors. Beautiful decor accented by subtle lighting makes for a wonderful ambience. The restaurant is sectioned off so you don’t feel lost inside and still get an intimate restaurant vibe. There is a bar near the entrance for drinks or if you are waiting for a table.
Throughout our meal, I noticed that they really take their time to make dinner an enjoyable experience, bringing just one dish at a time and waiting for us to finish a course before clearing the table and bringing the next. Our server was extremely polite and soft-spoken, explaining every dish and answering any questions we had.
Our starters began with red tuna on crunchy rice with seared garlic butter, tobiko and chili (NIS 48). The tuna was quite spicy on its own, and even more so with the jalapeno slices atop each one. The crispiness of the rice added that extra bit of flavor and texture to truly elevate the dish. It reminded me of the Korean stone pot bibimbap, with the crunchy rice at the bottom, which is my favorite part.
Next, the wakame salad (NIS 30) was sweet, fresh and very light.
The dressing was not overpowering with vinegar, while the seaweed was cut into thin shreds and not too chewy.
We then had the crispy chicken steamed buns (NIS 48), which were out of this world. The buns were light and fluffy, while the chicken was crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.
There wasn’t much seasoning on the chicken itself, but the sauce was tangy – sweet and sour with a little bit of chili sauce to give it a nice spice.
The variety of sushi at Okinawa appears endless, and we sampled some of the most interesting combinations. First up was the shiroi roll(NIS 38), which consisted of sea bass, salmon skin, avocado and chives wrapped in sea bream and topped with tempura crumbs.
We were then served the sansiki roll (NIS 45), which was made up of tempura futomaki, red tuna, salmon, sea bream and asparagus.
Each roll was delicious and filled with extremely high-quality fish.
Since it was a very cold day, we decided to try one of the warm dishes. We wanted to try one of Okinawa’s noodle dishes. Our lovely waitress recommended the green chicken curry (NIS 52). This was one of our favorite dishes of the night, extremely flavorful with Thai basil, green beans, coriander in a golden curry sauce with coconut cream. The curry was light and delicate, but it still had a dynamic flavor. Some restaurants serve pungent, overly thick curry that reminds me of what I can make at home out of a jar.
For dessert we had banoffee pie, which was delicious. Light, fluffy Chantilly cream shrouded layers of toffee sauce and sliced bananas.
Overall, Okinawa was great. Our meal was so fresh with such bold flavors, that it was a highlight of the week.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Okinawa Not kosher 11 Levontin Street, Tel Aviv (03) 510-1099