Japan comes to Rosh Ha’ayin

Kan-Kai sushi and Asian food moved to the hearts of the Yemenite neighborhood

Kan-Kai (photo credit: DROR KATZ)
(photo credit: DROR KATZ)
Rosh Ha’ayin was founded in 1949 and began life as a ma’abara, a tent city built hastily to receive the thousands of Yemenite immigrants brought to Israel in the daring Magic Carpet operation which transported almost 50,000 Jews “on eagles’ wings” to the new State of Israel.
The romantic notion was long ago debunked and many criticisms emerged later as to how the operation was run. But it is also agreed that the Yemenite aliyah was a successful one. Many former Yemenites became household names, especially in the entertainment world – people like Shoshana Damari, Ofra Haza, Izhar Cohen (Eurovision winner 1978) and Sharon Cohen (better known as Dana International). Yisrael Yeshayahu was the fifth speaker of the Knesset. Yemenite jewelry is still sought after and admired.
As for Yemenite food, the most popular kosher restaurants back in the ‘70s were in Jaffa and specialized in Yemenite food.
Which brings me seamlessly to Kan-Kai, run by Hadar Akram. It’s a sushi and Asian food restaurant that began life on Kibbutz Einav in 2007 and moved to Rosh Ha’ayin only five months ago. Hadar is a member of the Kibbutz and began her business there with a small intimate restaurant in the heart of the kibbutz, catering to members.
She recognized the potential for exotic and different Asian foods, set up a stall in the town and prepared the sushi herself, selling to the passing crowds.
The new restaurant is in a small shopping center in the town where Hadar presides over the proceedings with several Thai chefs laboring away at creating the sushi and preparing other dishes from the extensive menu.
For starters, we chose shredded papaya with green beans and pesto. Exhibiting considerable ingenuity in making the dish, Hadar substituted kohlrabi for papaya, green coriander for basil and peanuts for pine nuts, making a very original pesto. Full marks for creativity and the end result was eminently edible (NIS 29). Our second starter was a plate of chicken wings, not the sticky kind but crispy and highly spiced (NIS 29). Both starters were first class.
For the main course I chose a tossed noodle dish containing chicken pieces with mushrooms and broccoli, slightly flavored with coconut. It was very tasty and far too generous to finish (NIS 55).
My companion liked the sound of the curry dish dubbed Red Curry Lily (perhaps because we had just taken care of a dog named Lily for two weeks) and was delighted with the dish, a nicely hot curry, with a prominent ginger overtone, filled with chicken and vegetables and served with fluffy white rice.
The liquid accompaniment for this exotic feast was Japanese beer, a very refreshing drink with an insidious kick, the perfect accompaniment.
Desserts are not the restaurant’s strong point. We were offered churros, the South American fried pastry served with a home-made caramel dip and so were able to end our meal on a sweet note.
Having finished our meal, we realized we had not even tasted the sushi, so Hadar gave us a selection to take home. They were not only beautiful but delicious, an aesthetic combination of fish, vegetables, rice and seaweed. It made me realize that sushi really is the perfect balanced food.

Moshe Dayan St. 2, Rosh Ha’ayin. Ph: 03-02-1833
Kashrut: Givat Shmuel branch of the Rabbinate and Rosh Ha’ayin branch of Tzohar
Open: Sun-Thurs. 10 a.m.-11p.m., Friday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m
Saturday: One hour after Shabbat until 11 p.m.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.