Monday, January 10, 2022

Your New Favorite Sushi Place in Jerusalem

8 Shevat 5782.

Word of mouth is a very powerful sales tool, as are quality and service. Thanks to all three, Sushi Mamilla is our new favorite sushi place.

The adventure started when our friend and fellow foodie, Arnie Draiman, raved about a new place we hadn’t heard of in downtown Jerusalem. Since it was in our usual hang-out area, we knew we needed to give it a try before our latest self-imposed lockdown. (Fie on thee, COVID! Give us back our normal routines!)

Shlomzion HaMalka 4

The restaurant was easy to find, located just across the street from Misrad HaPnim on Shlomzion HaMalka. There were several couples and small groups already dining outside; and we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a waitress and by the owner, Naftali. Both took the time to be interested in us as human beings before they seated us and left us to peruse the menu.

As a brief aside, I will say that we discovered another new sushi place not long ago that was just opening. While there appeared to be food available, it was nearly impossible for us to get attention, and that was without a crowd. When we finally did, there was no menu in English and no one seemed to have the time for my slow efforts in Hebrew. I don’t need to have establishments cater to me in English. This is Israel, after all, and it’s my responsibility to learn the language. But I do like to be acknowledged. So, that sushi place is history, as far as we’re concerned. Back to the present...

After pleasant banter with the masked waitress, whose name was Halla, we placed our order. While waiting, I checked out the facilities. The single bathroom is clean and well-appointed, though small (befitting the small restaurant).

Halla brought us a very-mildly pickled appetizer of cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and red peppers with a hint of sesame seeds. Even Coach, famous for avoiding pickles, enjoyed the dish, much to my surprise.

In a reasonable amount of time, our beautifully-plated order appeared. I chose the Salmon Poke Bowl with perfectly sliced and very fresh salmon and avocado, with toothpick-slim sticks of cucumber and carrots as well as sweet potatoes and other perfectly prepared vegetables. The dish was topped with a wonderfully colorful crispy mixture so that I enjoyed a flavor experience from sweet to earthy with plenty of interesting textures. The dish was served on a bed of white rice. Though I am not interested in rice these days, the few bites I indulged in were quite tasty, and just the right consistency.

Coach was in an adventurous mood, and chose the American Pessi Roll with baked salmon, peanut butter, carrots, and sweet potato served with a very interesting, tangy sauce. He was delighted with the combination.

Near the end of our meal, the owner, Naftali, joined us to ask how we were enjoying the food. (We had seen him stop by all the tables outside as well.) We talked about the Old Country, as he came from Long Island two years ago, and we asked a few questions about the restaurant and the menu. It delighted me that many of his dishes are named for his children and children-in-law as well as for grandchildren. Nothing like a love of family to impress the two of us!

Not quite ready to end the adventure, we decided to try one of Naftali’s recommendations: the Falafel Sushi. This dish really brought home the restaurant’s tagline: “Where the Middle East meets the Far East.” There was no loss of taste or texture in the falafel ball cradled within the rice and tempura outer coating. We were glad we tried the “dessert.”

Sushi Mamilla has kosher certification from the Rabanut Yerushalayim, mehadrin min hamehadrin.

All of our encounters with the staff were pleasant and fun, and as we were leaving, we had one more surprise. Our “masked bandit,” Halla, photo-bombed us at the door as Coach was posing with the menu. I really love this place, and I am sure you will, too. We plan to make it a regular stop on our please-God increasing visits to the Holy City.

This gal more than earned her tip!

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