Feast from the East

Minna Tomei brings together flavors from all over Asia tailored to the Israeli palate.

Minna Tomei brings together flavors from all over Asia tailored to the Israeli palate (photo credit: Courtesy)
Minna Tomei brings together flavors from all over Asia tailored to the Israeli palate
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Definitely a step above your typical Asian restaurant, Tel Aviv’s Minna Tomei (“everything is transparent” in Japanese) offers a mixed menu that covers many cuisines, from Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese to Indian, with traditional dishes in which many were modified by Chef Moshe Badishi to suit the local palate.
To say that my meal was surprisingly good would be an understatement. Every bite was enjoyed and the plates were licked clean. By the time we left, my dining partner and I were completely stuffed.
What appears to be a very nonchalant look from the outside, turns into an impressive, full scale restaurant from the moment you walk through the doors. Beautiful decor accented by perfectly subtle lighting make for a fantastic ambiance. The restaurant is sectioned off so you won’t feel lost inside and you still get an intimate restaurant vibe. There is a bar near the entrance for drinks or if you are waiting for a table.
Cocktails, of course, were the first things we ordered. The cocktail menu, which makes significant use of Asian ingredients, definitely skews toward the sweet side; so while each was enjoyable (we sampled four recipes), I found myself wanting something more straightforward.
Deciding on a meal was really hard. The menu is huge and everything looked appetizing. As always, I made sure to over-order to ensure I could try as many items as possible in one sitting. The menu is easy to follow, as each dish from each country is marked in a different color so you know which cuisine you are choosing.
From among the first courses, the Korean beef buns (NIS 39) were truly outstanding. It was neither sloppy nor slathered. It was perfect. It came with kimchi, non-fattening and it tasted wonderful. The bun was fresh and the beef was tender and tasty.
This was followed by spicy tuna tamago (NIS 37). It didn’t matter if this sushi was tasty or not because the presentation stole the show. Luckily, though, it tasted as good as it looked.
For the main course, we sampled a variety of styles and tastes. First up was the Thai green curry (NIS 52). This dish is generally very spicy, so we asked the kitchen to prepare a mild version. The chicken was tender, and the blend of curry and coconut harmonized perfectly.
As for the Korean chunky beef (NIS 69), the taste was seriously out of this world. Bathed in Korean mustard sauce and pear salad, the meat was super tender, juicy and delicious. It was not overly marinated so we could still taste the freshness and essence of the beef.
When I didn’t think that I could take another bite they brought out the classic Asian dessert: Banana loti (NIS 27), which consists of a caramelized banana crepe served on a plate drizzled with toffee sauce. Simply put, it was delicious.
We also somehow managed to polish off the creme brulee (NIS 34), which comes stacked as three small brulees layered between crisp phyllo pastry and a dash of light caramel sauce. Absolutely great.
The meal was finished with a cup of steaming hot jasmine tea. The whole flowers floated in our teapot, expanding and giving their fragrance over to the tea that we promptly enjoyed.
All in all, I felt like I was invited to someone’s home for dinner. The owners are very warm and want to make you are as happy as possible while providing greattasting and comforting food. It is a great place for a post-work drink and appetizers, to take a friend from out-of-town, a birthday or to impress your parents. The cravings have not stopped since my visit, and I can’t wait to go back and enjoy this gem again.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Minna Tomei
Not Kosher
17 Ha’arba’a St., Tel Aviv