Nini Hachi revisited

The established kosher Japanese restaurant in Tel Aviv is a good place to return to.

Nini Hachi Japanese restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Nini Hachi Japanese restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
Nini Hachi, the Japanese restaurant at 228 Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel-Aviv has been going for just a year, and it has established itself as one of the best kosher eateries in the city.
The two owners, Udi Romonovsky and Yoav Levin are experienced restaurateurs who know a thing or two about good food and making their guests feel welcome.
Although it was an early weeknight when we revisited, the place was hopping and there wasn’t an empty table by the time we left.
The décor of the place is very simple, almost Spartan, but the food is invariably good and the service solicitous – and not just for visiting reviewers. From what I could see all the diners were getting the same care and attention.
To get into the mood we started the evening with a glass of Choya Umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur), which certainly helped to overcome the winter chill (NIS 24 a glass).
Having said that, I must confess that I found the place overheated and the temperature could easily have been reduced by several degrees for comfort.
For starters we had the agadishi (NIS 28), cubes of tofu in a spicy sauce, and Japanese crispy wings (NIS 32). The tofu was lightly fried and the upper cubes stayed crispy while the lower ones were soaked in the rather peppery sauce, making it taste like two for the price of one.
The notoriously tasteless tofu was really full of flavor – a tribute to the skill of the chef.
My companion worked his way through six battered and deep-fried tiny chicken wings and had a beatific smile on his face for most of the time, attesting to the success of this dish (NIS 32).
Another starter that was brought to the table was ni ni sashimi, a beautifully presented platter of sliced raw fish – salmon, seabream and tuna, served in a great soy and ginger dressing.
The salad on the side was also very good – crisp julienned strips of cucumber, carrot and green peppers with a sweet dressing and more chunks of very fresh raw fish (NIS 45).
Our helpful waitress suggested we have teppanyaki for our main courses. This is food cooked and served on an iron griddle, so it stays hot for the duration of the meal.
I chose the seabream and it was superb – two boneless fillets perfectly cooked with a delicate, slightly sweet sauce that allowed the taste of the fish to dominate (NIS 72). My companion’s main course was pieces of young chicken thigh (pargiot) in a meaty nonsweet gravy (NIS 72). The crispy vegetables were carrots, squash and peppers, all soaked in the delicious soy-based sauce.
After having been brought a hot moist towel to freshen up, we were ready for dessert.
The separate dessert menu lists about eight choices, all at NIS 9 each.
At this price one can try three or four of the dainty little offerings.
They are all very aesthetically made, and no more than a mouthful or two – chocolate cream on a cookie base, crème brulee, lychee mousse and coconut cream.
We ended our meal with unsweetened Japanese tea from an authentic pot.
Nini Hachi does takeaway and has a catering service. It has also launched a Friday afternoon tasting menu.
They are very anxious to point out that their menus cover different gastronomic needs – vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and those of pregnant women. We had a great and satisfying meal – and didn’t eat one grain of rice.
Tel: (03) 624-9228 Kosher.
Sunday to Thursday – 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday – 12 p.m. till 4.
Saturday – from end of Shabbat until 1 a.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.