Fisherman’s choice

Benny Hadayag in Netanya has fish fans hooked.

Benny Hadayag restaurant in Netanya (photo credit: BENNY HADAYAG FACEBOOK)
Benny Hadayag restaurant in Netanya
There are several Benny Hadayag (Benny the Fisherman) restaurants around Israel, but only one has a kashrut certificate. For fish lovers, there is nothing quite like a good piece of grilled or baked fresh fish, just coming off the bone, for a satisfying and lowcalorie meal.
The kosher fish restaurant is situated amid a small row of eating establishments near the beach in South Netanya, just below the landmark Ramada hotel, with a great view of the golden sands and blue Mediterranean of the area popularly known as the Israeli Riviera.
A meal at Benny Hadayag is a casual affair. The simple décor and no-frills presentation make it an ideal place for a family outing that won’t break the bank.
A variety of salads (NIS 47, but free if you are going to order a main dish) appeared at our table almost as soon as we sat down and began perusing the varied menu. About 15 different salads in small dishes were set before us, and one can only marvel at the ingenuity of the chefs who create these variations on every possible vegetable.
Some were conventional salads that I had seen before, such as diced tomatoes and cucumbers; humus with tehina; red and white cabbage. Others were really original, such as minced green and black olives; cooked zucchini in vinaigrette; and eggplant in a variety of guises.
The helpful waiter also brought us pinukim (treats), which included a piping hot deep-fried crumbed mushroom (very good) and a plate of fluffy couscous with tasty vegetables on the side. They owners also insisted we try the chreime (spicy fish in tomato sauce), which was just the thing to warm up on a cold night.
A basket of crusty rolls came with the salad course.
Everything was so tasty that it was a great temptation to indulge in the first course with abandon and polish off the salads. This would have been a mistake, as the fish course was very generous and, although simply cooked, was absolutely delicious.
My dining companion and I tried two main dishes: grilled sea bream that had been opened flat and lightly grilled on both sides (NIS 104) and sea bass that was baked with salt (NIS 99).
Both were very fresh and just nicely done without being undercooked or overcooked – a very important point when cooking fish. We had never had fish baked in salt before, although we have used this method for roasting chicken. It works very well, keeping in all the flavor without making the dish at all salty.
On the side were roasted sliced potatoes with onions and several of the salads from the first course. The house wine accompanied the meal (NIS 29 a glass).
For dessert we could have been virtuous and chosen watermelon but opted instead for the parve meringue and cake choices, smothered in cream and chocolate sauce – decadent but delicious (NIS 39).
For a family outing or a quick meal, Benny Hadayag really has plenty to offer. The menu also offers meat and vegetarian choices but without a doubt, if you love fish, this is the restaurant for you.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Benny Hadayag Kosher Island Hotel 10 Oved Ben-Ami Boulevard, Netanya Tel: (09) 835-9499 Sunday to Thursday, noon to midnight Closed Shabbat