Minato – A Bit of Japan in Israel

by matkonation | 20.05.13

It’s always hard for me to come back to Israel after visiting my family and friends in Los Angeles. It’s the goodbyes, and not knowing when we are going to see each other again. It’s the fact that despite the jetlag- my trips there are a vacation-no dishes to wash, no laundry, no house to clean. And it’s the sushi.

I know I sound as shallow as a Kardashian right now, but it’s true. I love the sushi in Los Angeles, home to some of the greatest sushi joints in the country (Katsuya,Nobu, Urasawa,etc.) And when I arrive back in Israel, it generally takes me quite some time to eat sushi again, giving myself a buffer zone in time as to not remember the taste of fresh albacore quite so vividly.

But when Danya and I were invited to visit the Japanese restaurant, Minato, located in the heart of the Herziliya high-tech district, I was excited and yet quite skeptical having it been just a week after my trip to sushi-land (LA). I had heard really great things about this restaurant from people in the industry, but had yet to try it myself.

Disclaimer: I’m preggers, and am not eating raw fish, and therefore didn’t try some of the sushi and sashimi that they prepared for us, but I trust Danya’s word as if it was mine.

Albeit we were there during lunchtime, but the meal that they served was more characteristic of the food they serve for dinner. Eti, our server was surprisingly knowledgeable about Japan and the Japanese eating culture and started our meal out by proving us with the Shibori, the traditional hot towel served before meals. For starters we had two hot soups, a soba in a dashi broth and the agadashi tofu, both of which were packed with just the right balance of flavor and subtlety. The cold soba salad was in taste similar to the soba soup, just cold, and was quite refreshing. The highlight in the starters category was the Sea Bream dynamite, a soft white flaky fish covered in a traditional mildly spicy dynamite sauce that was a bit heavy but absolutely delicious.

For our main dishes, we were served the typical Izakya meal, meaning small dishes, destined to be shared deriving from the Japanese word of I (to stay) and sakaya (sake shop), where traditionally this type of meal would be served. Being that the restaurant is kosher, their dishes do not include any shell-fish (shrimp, crab). I thought this would be a disappointment for me, as I tend to steer clear of kosher restaurants, but I was delightfully surprised with the ingenuity of Japanese chef, Agison (I think they only one in Israel). The dishes that really stood out in this part of the meal were the Tuna tatake served with avocado and asparagus in a ponzu sauce, the Karagi special which was very lightly fried Spanish mackerel with a ginger, garlic and leek sauce and the beef Sukiyaki.

Going with the Izakya theme, I convinced Danya to order my pre-pregnancy drink of choice, Nigori Sake, the white, cloudy unfiltered cold kind. With me being delightfully full and Danya being delightfully tipsy, we didn’t have much room for the desserts, which were surprisingly quite un-Japanese.

My family and friends over there in far off LA can never be replaced, and neither can my LA sushi, but at least now I know that I have a really great place to go for authentic Japanese cuisine in the Middle East.

Minato

Address: Hamenofim 8, Herzilya Pituach

Phone: +972-9-7731703

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