Dining: All things Asian

Minna Tomei is ‘clearly’ a front runner.

Minna Tomei restaurant (photo credit: PR)
Minna Tomei restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
Definitely a cut 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 and Vietnamese to Japanese and Indian, with traditional dishes in which many were modified by chef Moshe Badishi to suit the local palate.
What appears to be a very modest look from the outside turns into an impressive, full-scale restaurant from the moment you walk through the doors. Beautiful decor accented by subtle lighting makes for a fantastic ambience.
The restaurant is sectioned off so you don’t feel lost inside and 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. We tried the apple and anise, as well as the little Tiki (cold sangria with pineapple chunks).
Both were very tasty.
Deciding on a meal was really difficul. The menu is huge, and everything looked appetizing. As always, I made sure to over-order to ensure that 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 bun (NIS 39) was truly outstanding. It was neither sloppy nor slathered. It was perfect. It came with kimchi, which was non-fattening very flavorful.
The bun was fresh, and the beef was tender and tasty.
This was followed by Vietnamese nems (NIS 39). These crunchy spring rolls served with lettuce and fresh leaves for wrapping were fried to perfection, and the chicken filling was moist and flavorful.
Next up was the papaya salad, which was very tasty and spicy, just the way I like it. The papaya was nice and crunchy, and everything worked together beautifully.
The malai kofta (NIS 37) are essentially Indian veggie balls/ dumplings covered in a rich, creamy tomato-based sauce.
Served with naan bread, the tomato sauce was exquisite. The kofta was soft and hearty yet light enough to finish without regret.
The balance of flavors and aromas showed a real mastery by the chef.
For the main course, we sampled a variety of styles and tastes. First up was the papaya massaman, which came with an option of tofu or beef (NIS 52/56).
The beef 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 very 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 dessert. We somehow managed to polish off the creme brulee, which came stacked as three small brulees layered between crisp filo pastry and a dash of light caramel sauce. Absolutely great.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Minna Tomei
Not kosher
17 Ha’arba’a St., Tel Aviv