Poetry on a Plate

If you want to enjoy the great food at Sahki Sahki for less, come early: there is 30% off the entire menu between 17.00 and 19.00.

Sahki Sahki (photo credit: DAN HAIMOVITCH)
Sahki Sahki
(photo credit: DAN HAIMOVITCH)
Acclaimed chef Yahaloma Levi is one of the more peripatetic chefs In Israel, if the number of restaurant kitchens she has helmed in recent years is any criterion: these include Rokach 73 and Yahaloma BaNamal. An explanation for this itinerant tendency, suggests a friend, may be that she is also in such high demand as a caterer.
Thus, Levi has learned to pick talented sous-chefs on whom she can rely the nights she is away from her restaurant. Such was the case when we finally made it to her latest venture, Sahki Sahki, a trendy new bar, tapas bar and restaurant on Tchernikhovsky Street (near the corner of Allenby), named after one of the poet’s greatest works.
Reflecting the fully stocked bar, the alcohol menu lists classic cocktails and five specialty cocktails (NIS 46-50), plus a distinctive build-your-own gin and tonic menu, featuring premium, somewhat exotic, ingredients. The Pisco Cherry and Peach Mule were both fruity with a pleasant kick, while the Rio Grande practically exploded with flavor.
The entire food menu – 10 items, plus bread and three desserts – fits on just one small page. It is not divided into traditional categories; the wait staff will explain which dishes are appetizer-sized, which are intermediate in size and which are closer to main courses. Actually, most are what might be considered tapas; in addition to the dishes on the menu, there are three daily rotating specials described by the waiter.
As we sipped our drinks, we snacked on the crusty house bread (NIS 22), dipped into olive oil and the Sahki Sahki version of Egyptian do’ah, a mix of coriander seeds, ground peanuts and sesame. It took a measure of self-control to stop eating the bread and thus avoid ruining our appetites.
There is always a good representation of raw fish among the tapas, which is a good thing, since Chef Yahaloma is known for sourcing her fish from the best suppliers in town. The sous-chef recommended the white fish crudo (NIS 58), which was amberjack that evening, served in tomato water, sprinkled with tomato dust, accompanied by pickled fennel and garnished with red chili. The unusual ingredients were a dead giveaway that Chef Hadar was a protégé of Eyal Shani, which is all we needed to know to convince us to follow his advice. We were certainly glad we did, because the perfectly seasoned and exceedingly fresh fish, helped along by the crunch of chopped almonds, was excellent.
Next we had the Yahaloma Salad (NIS 49), the head chef’s signature salad, consisting of mixed greens, avocado, burrata cheese, chocolate striped cherry tomatoes and green fava beans in a simple dressing of lemon and olive oil. This unconventional salad was unfortunately dominated by slightly bitter rocket leaves which threaten to overwhelm; but if you take the proper care to balance the ingredients, you will be duly rewarded for your efforts.
This was followed by yet another trademark Yahaloma specialty: the lobster challah (NIS 88), as sacrilegious as that sounds. The beautiful golden brown toasted challah was like brioche, filled to overflowing with plump, juicy chunks of snow-white lobster in a rich, herb-flecked sauce. There is really never enough lobster meat in most lobster rolls, but this was mixture was delicious to the point of decadence.
Our main course, courtesy of the exclusive fishmonger, was a rare treat we could not resist ordering: red snapper (NIS 107). Not only was the white fish perfectly cooked, served with fennel marmalade, buffalo yogurt with sumac and roasted grapes, this was one of the best fish dishes I have had in recent memory.
The four desserts (NIS 28-42) on the menu included two influenced by Arab cuisine, one chocolate fudge cake, and one seasonal fruit tart, nectarine in this instance. It is hard to say which outstanding sweet finish we enjoyed more: the syrupy nectarines atop buttery pastry, or the Kadaif Tatin – apple cubes soaked in champagne vinegar and honey, baked and layered with crispy kadaif.
The only disappointment at the end was that the restaurant serves no milk with coffee, so we could not wash our dessert down with cappuccino or latte.
If you want to enjoy the great food at Sahki Sahki for less, come early: there is 30% off the entire menu between 17.00 and 19.00.
Sahki Sahki
Not kosher
Tchernikhovsky St. 4, Tel Aviv
Tel. (03) 774-4511
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.