Tatami, the name the owners chose for this restaurant, is actually a traditional Japanese mat. But it also evokes in Hebrew “taim,” tasty.
By GLORIA DEUTSCH
What is it with Israelis and sushi? Clearly there is some weird affinity between us and Japan’s national food; sushi places seem to spring up everywhere, like mushrooms after rain.One of the latest is Tatami, a pleasant, intimate restaurant situated in an open shopping precinct in Ramat Aviv. Parking is plentiful in the area just outside Tel Aviv, and the soft lighting and comfortable banquettes make for a warm welcome.As we sat down, dishes of homemade teriyaki sauce and spicy mayonnaise appeared, as well as a bottle of ice-cold Acqua Panna Italian bottled water (NIS 29).Behind the bar two oriental gentlemen, possibly ex-construction workers from Thailand, were expertly rolling and filling a tray of sushi for us. But so we would have something to eat in the meantime, a plate of salmon tartare was set before us. This consisted of very fresh raw salmon, cubed and flavored with lemon, set on a bed of chopped avocado. We opened our set of chopsticks and ate with relish, both agreeing that this was a perfect starter (NIS 62).To accompany the salmon, the manager, Eran, who was very helpful and solicitous throughout the evening, brought a Sokobotzo Nagy salad – a large bowl of julienned carrots, kohlrabi, raw beets and red onion, topped with mint leaves and chopped peanuts (NIS 62). It was crunchy, slightly sweet and lemony. Another pre-sushi starter was a dish of fish carpaccio, wafer-thin slices of raw gilt-head bream (denise), perfect for dipping in the sauces.The tray of sushi which next appeared was so beautiful it seemed a pity to eat it. A well-constructed sushi roll is truly a work of art, and these were outstanding. Some were tinted a pretty pink color derived from beets, and the fillings were all different – some with raw salmon, some with diced egg, some vegan. Prices vary, depending on amounts, but are in the NIS 50 range for a satisfying helping.As we had still not tasted the main course, Eran insisted we try the red-hot chili curry (NIS 69) and asked what degree of spiciness we wanted. The hotter the better was the answer. The dish consisted of basmati rice with a lidded pan of the meat sauce ensuring it stayed hot.AdvertisementThe slivers of soft beef came in a creamy red sauce with vegetables, including crunchy green beans, cherry tomatoes and aubergines. I could only taste it, having exceeded my capacity for food intake, but my companion polished off the lot.Taking a break before the desserts, I ventured downstairs to the toilets. The unisex conveniences are decorated with black and white tiles depicting a Madame Butterfly look-alike, cherry blossom and other Japanese motifs. Definitely worth a visit.Our waitress, Noam, suggested crème brûlée and, always curious to see how something so intrinsically dairy can be parve, I chose that, while my companion, a chocolate freak, went for the chocolate cake.The brûlée did a passable imitation, thin layers of custard on wafers, topped with a faint burnt sugar topping. The other dessert consisted of a slice of very rich dark chocolate cream/mousse, topped with ganache and with a crunchy chocolaty base. Both provided a sweet ending to an excellent meal.Tatami, the name the owners chose for this restaurant, is actually a traditional Japanese mat. But it also evokes in Hebrew “taim,” tasty – and it certainly lives up to that promise.TatamiKosher7 Einstein Street, Tel AvivTel. (03) 500-7040Open Sunday-Thursday, noon to midnightThe writer was a guest of the restaurant.