Tel Mond’s Exotic Restaurant

It felt like the first evening of autumn (sorry, fall for the Americans) and it was possible to sit comfortably outside without being too hot or cold.

Umai (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
First of all I want to apologize to all my ex-Manchester readers for writing about yet another sushi place. I realize that you were raised on meat and two vegetables and Asian food is way too strange for you. But, as I pointed out recently, Israelis love sushi and it’s really time to broaden your gastronomic horizons.
And Tel-Mond, where Umai is located, has impeccable English roots, having been founded by British Jewish aristocracy around 1930. Although now a respectably large town of 12,000 inhabitants it’s still a bucolic outpost for visitors from the big cities.
Umai, a Japanese restaurant very popular with the locals was opened two years ago by Aviel, (whose South African mother immigrated to Israel over 60 years ago) and is very busy with families coming for an evening out and a steady stream of takeaway. Invited to sample the fare, I arrived one balmy evening recently, accompanied not by my usual companion, but by my vegan son. As Umai is very vegan-friendly I was sure he would find something suitable.
It felt like the first evening of autumn (sorry, fall for the Americans) and it was possible to sit comfortably outside without being too hot or cold. We nibbled on a bowl of Japanese pickled vegetables (NIS 12) while Aviel made helpful suggestions as to what we should order.
We began our meal with a shared plate of gyozos. These are a kind of dumpling, slightly resembling our kreplach which we traditionally eat on Rosh Hashanah. Except these were filled with vegetarian fillings as requested, and came in a variety of colors, notably green, purple and light brown. Fillings ranged from sweet potato to mushroom and were very tasty. My only complaint is that they could have been a little hotter, temperature-wise. (NIS 24 for 5).
For a main course I chose red-hot curry (NIS 50) with basmati rice. The curry sauce was creamy, presumably from the base of coconut milk, nicely hot temperature and taste-wise and full of vegetables and a very generous helping of chicken breast slices. My companion chose Pad Shu Lin (NIS 44) a dish of rice noodles tossed with mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrot sticks, green beans and tofu for protein. It was flavored with ginger and fresh coriander and topped with slivered almonds and was pronounced delicious. Both dishes were far too generous to finish.
We didn’t really expect much in the way of dessert but Aviel came up with a pareve version of malabi which was very good and reminded me of the blancmange we used to eat at parties back in the good ol’ days. This one was surrounded by tart forest fruits and provided an excellent finale. (NIS 28). We also ordered a chocolate bar and took this home for future tasting. It was also great, a creamy mousse-like dark chocolate topping on a thin crunchy base. (NIUS 28).
Israel loves oriental food. It made me wonder, as we were driving home, whether the Japanese and Chinese return the compliment and have a falafel joint on every corner. I very much doubt it.
Rehov HaDekel, 47
09 7961556
Sun –Thurs.- 12 to 23h.
Friday:11.30 – 15h.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.