The raw truth: The five best sushi rolls in Tel Aviv
Ok, maybe the best 10 (it's hard to narrow down just five). We'll save our recommendations for best non-sushi Japanese dishes for another time.
The Japanese kitchen is a diverse and tasty one, but for most uninitiated non-Japanese diners, sushi is still a favorite. The sushi craze hit Israel in the mid 1990s and since has become something of a national cuisine here.
Haaretz and City Mouse got our chopsticks ready for you and narrowed down five of the best sushi rolls in Tel Aviv. These delicious rolls happen to be found in five of the best Japanese restaurants in town, but we'll save our recommendations for best non-sushi dishes for another time.
Let's start with Yakimono (Rothschild 9). First, a warning: this restaurant is not cheap. Second, a warning: this restaurant is amazing.
Narrowing down the best items on this luxuriously robust menu was difficult, but a few do stand out as extraordinarily extraordinary.
Take the Gomo Sushi Mori, for example. This may have elements of traditional Japanese cuisine, but it speaks Hebrew like a real Israeli. Picture this: Balls of sushi rice dipped in fish powder, gently laid out on a bed of tahini, topped with sashimi salmon, tuna or yellow tail, decorated with umami-licious shitake mushrooms. Doesn’t sound good? Taste it. You'll be converted. (NIS 60).
Still not feeling it? Try the Rainbow Maki, a colorful roll filled with salmon and avocado and topped with more salmon, tuna and yellowtail (NIS 75 for 6 pieces).
If you find yourself in Ramat Aviv, then do yourself a favor and get a seat at the little-known-but-not-for-long Japanese delight Akiko (Ahimeir 17, Schuster Center). This humble and quiet restaurant has been around for five years, but few people south of the Ramat Aviv border seem to realize. The place is designed with serious feng shui, and is without a doubt one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in the country. Maybe that's become it's owned by Akiko, who was born in Japan and moved to Israel with her husband 12 years ago.
So what to eat? Well, we could go into the many non-sushi items on the menu, but since that's not what we're here for, we'll dive right into the best roll on the menu. Oh, the competition is stiff, but we'll opt for the Neon Roll. Nothing psychedelic about this roll, aside from the taste; the roll gets its name from the bright avocado nestled atop the sticky rice, filled with salmon, tuna, avocado and ginger (prepared by Akiko herself). Since the Japanese don't dip their sushi in sauce, Akiko adds a little spicy paste with some green onion, to satisfy the Israeli palette (NIS 69 for 8 pieces).
Don't really feel like eating a roll, but want the taste of sushi anyway? Order the Chirashi Deluxe, and lose yourself in a huge rice bowl (easily big enough for two), layered with sashimi, shrimp, vegetables and tamago.
Unami (Haarba'ah 18) sprouted up in Tel Aviv just as sushi began to get a name for itself in this city, but unlike the competitors of its generation, it's here to stay. There is so much to choose from on this huge menu, that if we weren't talking just about sushi, and wanted to recommend all of our favorite dishes, we'd probably have to just reprint the menu right here on Haaretz.com. Narrowing down the sushi is hard enough, but we'll give it a go. Some things in life are just that important.
One of our favorite sushi items on the Unami menu is perhaps not what you think of when you think sushi, but it's a party in the mouth. We promise. We're talking about the Ikura Ozora Goncken. The word Gonken means battleship in Japanese, so the name of this sushi essentially means a battle of flavors. It's a ball of rice wrapped in seaweed, topped with salmon roe, then topped with a quail egg. The balance of flavors is tremendous. Good things really do come in small packages (NIS 32).
Still hungry? Get the Shirosakana roll, a mix of white fish with avocado, green onion, and spicy mayonnaise, topped with sashimi salmon. A classic and delicious roll. You won't be disappointed (NIS 26).
For the taste of fusion than never gets boring, plan ahead and reserve a table at the ever popular Moon (Bograshov 58). This place gained fame when it opened up 12 years ago because it was the first sushi joint in Tel Aviv to send plates around a revolving belt. But that's not the attraction for us foodies here at Haaretz and City Mouse Online. No, what we're after is the crescendo of flavors, the plethora of choice: the sushi, friends, the sushi!
What to order when you've finally gotten a seat? We say come hungry and choose what you like (and a lot if it), but don't skip the devil inside. The Devil Inside roll, that is. What you do with your own devil is your business.
This satanic little beast is not what God may want his chosen people to eat, but if you say foo fah to kosher food (not that we're suggesting you do, heaven forbid), then your mouth will celebrate from this hedonistically delicious combination of fried eel, shrimp, and foie gras, rolled inside rice and topped with tempura flakes and teriyaki sauce (NIS 37 for 4 pieces).
Don't want to say sell your soul to the devil and fooh fah to kosher food? Then please, get the Black Mamba Mix. And get us one too. This is unlike any sushi roll we've had before – a filet of raw sashimi (salmon, tuna or yellow tail), wrapped around the rice, and filled with salmon and yellowtail tartar (NIS 41). It's good. Really good.
Ok, we're only going to offer one more sushi place here, because we're getting hungry and it's hard to write on an empty stomach. So maybe we'll go back to Fu (Yermiyahu 32) for lunch, since we had such a delicious experience there last time. Fu is new in Tel Aviv, but it's already gained a name for itself as one of the better places in town. Celebrities like it. Non-celebrities like it. We like it.
So what will we get to eat (if we don't decide to go to Moon, Unami, Yakimono or Akiko, that is)? Definitely the inside out Spicy Asparagus Roll. Like every other roll you'll find at Fu, this one has an unusual but outstanding twist to it. Here you'll find shrimp, asparagus, avocado, and bitingly spicy mayonnaise, with flying fish eggs, wrapped in seaweed. Maybe it seems like there are too many flavors here, but the combination is nothing less of genius (NIS 27). Dip the roll in one of the amazing sauces Fu puts out with every dish: watercress, spicy mayonnaise or teriyaki, all homemade.
And then order at least one more roll (we couldn't resist): the Tuna Arugula (NIS 41). Red sashimi tuna, wrapped in homemade avocado spread, mixed with arugula and capers. It's kind of like carpaccio wrapped in a roll and it is so, so good.
Ok, time for lunch.