Hadera’s landmark kosher restaurant

The restaurant was established 50 years ago by Savta Yaacobi, the matriarch of the family who still, at age 86, keeps a grandmotherly eye on the proceedings.

Hadera’s landmark kosher restaurant (photo credit: KOBI ROSENBLUM)
Hadera’s landmark kosher restaurant
(photo credit: KOBI ROSENBLUM)
The Hadera restaurant Opera, situated on the main drag, Rehov Weizman, is almost as much a landmark in the town as the iconic power-station chimneys that rise majestically over the Mediterranean Sea adjacent to the town.
The restaurant, which we visited during the intermediate days of Sukkot, was established 50 years ago by Savta Yaacobi, the matriarch of the family who still, at age 86, keeps a grandmotherly eye on the proceedings, together with her 91-year old husband. Her family arrived from Yemen in 1911 and she was born in Tel-Aviv in 1933. Today her grandson Assaf continues the tradition, overseeing the production of traditional Yemenite food with other Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi influences thrown into the mix.
Our waiter, Khaled, a twinkly-eyed native of nearby Baka al-Gharbiya, introduced himself as “Khaled Rabinovitch” and proceeded to load our table with an assortment of house salads, all freshly-made of natural ingredients, without any preservatives,
There were several eggplant salads including the familiar baked eggplant with mayonnaise in which, we were told, the vegetable had been roasted on hot coals; humus; salsa; schug; aubergine with vegetables; Turkish salad; and the archetypal Yemenite “hilbe” condiment made from fenugreek, the texture of which can be a bit off-putting to Western palates but which is said to be very healthy.
To accompany the salads, Khaled brought a basket of pita, laffa, and the Yemenite bread “lachouch” which is identical to English crumpet.
Next up was a bowl of another traditional Yemenite dish, meat soup. This is a very spicy and rich consommé with a large piece of meat and a boiled potato floating around in it. It’s often called a meal in itself and it really is.
For our main courses we chose one goulash and one dish of meatballs with couscous.
The goulash beef was very soft and came with a puree of potatoes and rice. The only appropriate epithet for the dish was heimish, (Yiddish for homely).
The meatballs contained chopped fresh herbs and came in a rich tomato sauce with the traditional couscous vegetables as a side dish.
An Israeli salad, finely cubed and parsleyed, was served with the main course.
No desserts are listed but with our mint teas Khaled brought some pastries from the adjoining bakery, also belonging to the family.
Opera isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an institution and generations of Hadera-ites have eaten there. Long may it continue!
On a personal note, Opera is where my son-in-law, Hadera-ite Oren Wollstein, took my daughter Raheli on a first date. Now, 25 years and four grandchildren later, I can only say, “Thank you Opera!”
Opera, (Kosher)
Rehov Weizman 61, Hadera
Ph: 04-632-2352
Sun.-Thurs. 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.