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Sharak: The new wave of the Israeli cuisine

SC 19/08/2021 1


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Sharak is a somewhat confusing restaurant. On one hand, this new fish restaurant serves up some of the best dishes Tel Aviv has to offer, but on the other hand, it does so in simple, non-formal surroundings, with eclectic music playing a little too loud and casual service. But, and this is the big but, the food is good, on so many levels, that you tell yourself, “Who cares?” 
The prices, by the way, are very reasonable for fresh fish and maybe if they turned into a more high-end restaurant with white tablecloths and formal waiters, the prices would go up.
Two young chefs, Maor Zagouri and Ruslan Ossov, are at the helm here and they came up with a seasonal contemporary Mediterranean cuisine that is the epitome of what is now called The “New Israeli Cuisine.” Both chefs worked for many years under Chef Yaron Shalev in Toto, arguably one of the best restaurants and one of the most expensive in Tel Aviv. After many years of working under the renowned chef, the two decided to try on their own, and we can happily say, “Well done!” 

The menu changes according to what fresh fish and seafood the chefs could get their hands on that day, as well as what is available in the market in terms of fresh locally grown produce.
We asked to be seated inside because August in Tel Aviv is simply too hot and humid to sit outside. But the outside area seems perfect for a relaxed dinner with friends and family, and we decided we would return and sit there when the temperatures are a little less steep. 
The chefs came over as we sat down to introduce themselves and discuss our meal. They asked to be the ones choosing for us and we quickly agreed on one condition – that they didn’t send too much food. They promised but forgot and we ended up eating too much. After all, it is hard to say no to excellent food.
First we got the appetizers – a small dish with pickled chili, confit of garlic, and chili oil (NIS 18), that came with freshly baked bread, and a dish they call here green masabcha that was good but not as good as the other dishes that came later. The masbacha, usually a dish of hummus and whole chickpeas, was a warm salad made out of fennel, mangold, leek, lemon, olive oil and chickpeas, on a bed of Greek yogurt – a very tasty mix, but the seared calamari that was placed on top of the salad was, we thought, an unnecessary addition to an otherwise very innovative take on the traditional local dish (NIS 54). 
 Delicious meals at Sharak (credit: EITAN WAXMAN) Delicious meals at Sharak (credit: EITAN WAXMAN)
The tabbouleh salad here was next and it was one of the best dishes of the meal. The basic ingredients of tabbouleh – bulgur and herbs, were there, but it didn’t end there. Finely chopped tomato and cucumber, purple onion, mint, celery, green chili, oregano and cilantro, as well as almonds, olive oil and yogurt were added as well as a few pieces of raw fish that turned this humble dish into a celebration (NIS 57). If you like Moroccan cigars, you will love the next dish we sampled. Sharak’s version is a long “cigar” made of fresh brik pastry, stuffed with fresh sea fish, herbs, tomato and tahini and deep fried to perfection (NIS 48).  
Next we shared a pasta dish we both loved very much. The eggplant tortellini is one of the best pasta dishes we had recently. Fresh pasta, filled with ricotta and mozzarella, butter, spinach and asparagus – and served with a lot of butter – it was all excellent, no less (NIS 62). 
Another staple dish here is the cod skew with Tinkerbelle sauce. It was good but not the best dish we had in the meal. Maybe we were already too full, or maybe it is good but not as brilliant as other dishes we had here (NIS 69). 
Too full to continue, the chef insisted we try at least one of the fish, so we had a small portion of the fillet of grouper. It was perfect. Cooked in butter and Pernod (the French anise aperitif), served with zucchini and olives, perfumed with sage and little garlic, it was full of flavor, moist and cooked to perfection (NIS 105). With potato puree on the side it was a glorious ending to a wonderful summer dinner. 
We wanted to skip desserts but took a bite from Sharak’s yogurt ice cream. Made on the premises, it was an excellent choice as a light ending to this Mediterranean fish restaurant. Now this is what we call modern Israeli cuisine at its best. 
Well done!
Sharak
120 Ben Yehuda St., Tel Aviv
(03) 630-7070 
Open Monday through Saturday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Not kosher 
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

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Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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