Eat Like a Local: Tel Aviv

From matzo balls and kreplach to lemongrass-infused bouillabaisse, Tel Aviv is enthusiastic about all food, downhome and upscale. How enthusiastic? We can sum it up in a detail: locals call the @ sign a 'strudel'

In the last decade, sushi restaurants have sprouted up like shiitake mushrooms. At stylish Onami, chef Aya Imatani serves the traditional array of gourmet sushi, but the real treats are her authentic Japanese classics like goma doufu, a traditional sesame tofu served cold with spicy miso sauce ($3.50); and lousujyu yakiniku, tender beef stir-fried with fresh mushrooms, onions, and barbecue sauce ($11).

When there's something to celebrate, Tel Avivians choose Raphael, a French-Mediterranean restaurant overlooking the water. Seasonal specialties include polenta with parmigiano-reggiano and caviar ($10.75), or an appetizer of warm and cold foie gras with white leeks and sherry-vinegar caramel ($14.50). The sea bream entrée is roasted with tomatoes and pickled lemon ($19). Finally, the Valrhona chocolate with praline cream and cocoa sorbet rounds out a meal worth celebrating in its own right ($10).

  • Espresso Bar 166 Dizengoff St., 011-972/3-527-0077
  • Brasserie M&R 70 Ibn Gvirol St., 011-972/3-696-7111
  • Ali Karavan 1 Ha'dolfin St., Jaffa, no phone
  • Manta Ray Alma Beach near the Etzel Museum, 011-972/3-517-4774
  • Mika 27 Montefiore St., 011-972/3-528-3255
  • Batia 197 Dizengoff St., 011-972/3-522-1335
  • Gueta 6 Shderot Yurushalayim, Jaffa, 011-972/3-681-3993
  • Onami 18 Ha'arba'a St., 011-972/3-562-1172
  • Raphael 87 Hayarkon St., 011-972/3-522-6464

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