This visit was very different because I have a tiny sweet baby with me, that meant mainly that our day was over early and that we had to go with the flow and be more spontaneous than before. It was not bad at all and we still managed to try a few vegan places that I had on my list (I’m a big fan of lists!).
We started our visit at a place that I’ve heard of from a few friends. Anastasia is a popular vegan café, one of those that are blooming lately thanks to the vegan wave that is washing Israel in the past few years. We started with a Tomatoes Lotus, an appetizer of tomatoes and mushrooms on turmeric tahini with pesto and chickpeas pancakes. It was a beautiful dish as you can see but taste wise wasn’t so special.
For the main course I picked the macadamia crepe, a dish that is very popular and supposed to be the best.
To my astonishment, I received it burnt and it took me a few bites to realize because the crepe was covered by the veggie and tofu mix. I wasn’t sure and asked my sister to taste and yes, the crepe was burnt. I asked the waitress if it supposed to be like that she said “I don’t think so”, took it and after a few minutes came to ask if I want something else. Nope. I want this crepe! So I have waited for a new one, everyone finished theirs dish of course and I waited… Once it arrived I was already annoyed and not that hungry and ate just a few bites.
Bottom line: Anastasia you disappointed me!
For breakfast on the next day I went back to one of my favorite places, The Streets. I remembered their vegan breakfast from last time but sadly they removed but from the menu. I ordered a vegan shakshuka with mangold (chard) and tofu instead. It was served with some simple wonderful veggies and I enjoyed it very much.
Lucky us, the owner of the place set next to us and we had a nice discussion about veganism and future vegan dishes. He also invited us for a dessert on the house and it was delicious! A granola peanut butter chocolate cake!
In the evening we paid a visit to Zakaim, Israel’s award winning vegan restaurant, sadly, the lights at the restaurant are so dim I couldn’t take a single proper photo and will hate writing about something without photos. It was a lovely dinner thanks to the company, alas the food itself was not that amazing as I remembered it from me first Zakaim visit.
One lunch was dedicated to the Holy trinity Hummus, Chips, Salad at Baadunas, a chain of hummus places. It was simple and fresh but I have had much better hummus in my life!
In the evening we went to a Yemenite restaurant, Hasaluf. More than 50,000 Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel in 1949-1950. The newly founded Israel made everything possible to bring Jews from all over the world and so was the ancient community of the Jews in Yemenite brought in. The operation is known as Magic Carpet Operation and those immigrants, just like others that came from all over the world, brought their special cuisine with them.
Yemenite cuisine is not for everyone, it’s characterized mainly by oily dough. Yes, oily dough. And unless you tried it you will think it looks rather boring, unappealing, and… boring.
Well, it might, but let me tell you, although fat and probably unhealthy, some things are absolutely delicious!
We started with Kubane, some kind of a salty Yemenite brioche that was served with tahini and fresh grated tomatoes.
I ordered Jachnoon that wasn’t that good but it was OK for me because my mom got us Jachnoon on Saturday when we arrived at my parents and it was really good. It is from a famous Jachnoon place in my hometown of Eilat, Chani’s Jachnoon:
I’m not sure I can describe Jachnoon, but imagine layers and layers of an oily dough that was rolled and baked on the oven over night and is served with freshly grated tomatoes. I know. Sounds meh… But it’s not!!! Anyway, to summarize the Yemenite food topic: you need to try it!
Also in Tel Aviv: vegan Lotus ice cream that was sooooooooo good! The passion fruit was too sour and I regretted not taking just the lotus ice cream. From Vaniglia, in the Old Train Station of Tel Aviv.
Another lotus related yummy was this amazing lotus cappuccino that is on a test period at Aroma (but only in Tel Aviv). Basically it’s a regular cappuccino with some lotus cookies crumbs/powder. It was rather sweet but for lotus cookies fans it’s an awesome drink!
And I’d like to close the Tel Aviv reviews with this lovely dessert: Salep, we call it Sachlab in Hebrew. It’s a popular dessert in countries that were under Othman Empire rule. Salep is a thick milky, creamy, warm kind of pudding. It is mixed with rose water, coconut, cinnamon, and sugared peanuts. We got it at a place that sells only Salep and Malabi (an Arab dessert), The Malabia, and they offer a vegan version and it was so good that we went there twice! It’s also super cheap! 10 shekels which are 2.5$, 2.5€.
The biggest disappointed of the visit was at the Vegan Shawarma – a popular spot for vegans and activities. I even wrote about it in Vegan TLV 1. Long story short: we went there for a takeout, the place was a mess. We waited a long time after we ordered, they forgot all about our order and then said they don’t have what we ordered (we were waiting for more than half an hour!). Disappointed, we picked something else from the menu and they tried hard to give us the order fast. Once we got the bags I checked and realized that my food was missing. The boss who was there saw that we were unhappy and said to us that she is as pissed as we are. I have worked in the food business most of my life, that’s not what you tell an unhappy customer. Ever. The food was cold, not fresh and they managed to ruin even the French fries that were not properly fried. In addition, we took some vegan doughnuts and they were so disgusting, old and stale. I couldn’t believe they actually sell such things!
It wasn’t the first time that we experienced such a mess at the same place (in the last visit) but it’s vegan fast food and was close to where we are so we gave it another chance. It was probably the last time we go there. If it was tasty, maybe, but nope, was overall bad experience.
3 days in Tel Aviv were full, exciting, and tiring; coffee breaks were more than needed! We, Israelis, love drinking Cafe Hafuch (upside down coffee), which is basically cappuccino. With soy milk of course!
I also visited Eden Market, and as always, was impress with the vegan options there. A fridge full with local and imported vegan cheese, a fridge full with seitan and tofu products, and a freezer with lots of vegan food.
And some Tel Aviv sights:
After Tel Aviv we went down to my hometown of Eilat, a sleepy tourists’ city right where the desert ends and the Red Sea begins, between Aqaba of Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
What did I eat in Eilat?
First, my lovely dad took care of me and made all his delicious vegan salads, as you can see in the photos. Spicy tomatoes salad (Matbucha), Tahini, roasted eggplant salad, pesto, fried eggplant, roasted bell peppers. On a Chala bread, with mashed potatoes, with the most amazing fries in the world, and with an onion pita.
I fell in love with one of the best salads I have ever eaten, again, at Aroma, a chain of coffee shops. The Quinoa salad was absolutely wonderful and I wanted to eat it every day! We did takeout to the beach, of course. What’s so amazing about the salad? Well, imagine a mixture of: quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes, spring onions, Moroccan mint, dry cranberries, walnuts, sesame, tomatoes, cilantro, mung beans, basil, purple onion, buckwheat, wheat, tofu, and guess what? RAW TAHINI as dressing. I just drooled on my computer. Going to try and recreate this salad ASAP!
We tried the local branch of Buddha Burgers, a vegan chain, was mediocre, maybe because we did a takeout? It is hard to go to restaurants in the evening with a baby!, again I didn’t take any photos so will skip the review.
We took some Thai food from the Thai Corner and the owner of the place who heard my special requests (I didn’t want to intimidate with the word VEGAN) immediately said “Vegan Pad Thai, not a problem! The food was not the best Thai ever but wasn’t bad! (also, vegan Gyoza and Indonesian carrot salad that I loved!).
Better vegan Pad Thai was taken from MIKA, a sushi bar on the beach, I enjoyed mine a lot but then I might have been super hungry…
One evening I managed to go and help my friends Daniela and Shiraz with the animals that Daniela saved and are now in her house. She has more than 16 senior dogs with disabilities and many many cats, some are day old kittens. The treatment of street animals in Israel is depressing, there are too many of them and it is a huge problem. But there are good people like Daniela, who opened her heart and home and pocket, and Shiraz, a childhood friend of mine, who are dedicating most of their free time to take care of such animals. The shelter is registered as an NGO and if you would like to donate please leave a comment and I will forward all necessary details.
And some happy sights from Eilat:
Last soy Hafuch at Ben Gurion airport before flying home!
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it! And now, if you will excuse me, I need to eat something… 🙂