One of the biggest trends in the New York City restaurant scene at the moment, is Israeli cuisine. The City is already graced with several great places to try the unique blend of Mediterranean and European fusion found in the country’s food. So, last weekend, we checked out the very latest of these. Hidden among the narrow streets of Little Italy in Manhattan is the bijoux ‘Shooshoo Nolita,’ opened less than a month ago
The temperature outside might have been close to freezing but on entering Shooshoo, we were met with a warm friendly welcome. Inside, the restaurant has that cool Tel Aviv vibe that we so recently experienced on a trip to Israel for our friend’s wedding (more of that to follow in a future post on taste2taste). The decor is simple, modern with exposed ducts and white washed brickwork contrasting with aqua green paint splashes (reminiscent of the sea). There is a cozy couch area and dining is off simple stone topped tables surrounded by glass looking out onto the street
The menu, we were told by our waiter (who was from Herzliya, on the Israeli coast) had just been updated that very evening. It wasn’t available on the restaurant’s website when we booked – perhaps they were trying to live up to their name ‘Shoo Shoo’, which translates as mysterious and inviting? It consisted of 10 starters, 5 entrees and a couple of desserts, all of which appeared to be twists on modern Israeli food
While selecting our food, we were served with hunks of fresh bread with a butternut puree, olive oil and nuts and ordered some drinks including a Mata Hari Cognac, a chai infused sweet vermouth, with lemon and pomegranate Juice topped with edible rose heads – an exquisite blend
We eventually rolled with our waiter’s recommendations, focusing on vegetarian and fish courses, although we were tempted by some of the meat and poultry options. In particular, the delicious sounding Arayes which is a pita sandwich filled with either lamb or beef, tahini, roasted tomatoes, spicy peppers, pickled onion and sumac
We ordered Marinated Eggplant, Gluten Free Falafel Latkes, Fish Mademoiselle, a Pickled Beet and Avocado Salad followed by Middle Eastern Daal
We thought The Marinated Eggplant was a masterpiece. A sort of deconstructed ‘Sabich’ consisting of a mini tower of melt in your mouth Eggplant with parsley, lemon and garlic in a tahini sauce all topped with a perfect soft boiled egg
The Falafel Latkes were an unusual spin. A sort of fusion of two famous Israeli dishes, ‘falafel’ ubiquitous of Sephardi (Middle Eastern) Jewish street food and Latkes, a traditional Ashkenazi (European) dish consumed during the Jewish festival of Chanukah (of which it was the 8th Night that evening). They were soft delicious and moreish
The Pickled Beet and Avocado salad included cashew butter, sprouts, baby aragula with a simple lemon olive oil dressing. We found it to be a well balanced salad, with a pleasant and delicate herb leaf contrast
The Fish Mademoiselle was a riot of flavor, perfectly combining stewed branzino fish balls as the main item perfectly designed for dipping in the spicy tomato tahini sauce. The balls had a distinct lemon zesty tang and were much enhanced by the sauce
The Middle Eastern Daal consisted of a spicy lentil stew topped with lovely soft roasted butternut squash with fresh cilantro and yogurt. A great combination of flavor and texture. We had hoped to try the Wild Red Snapper Carpaccio, which we also spotted on the menu but unfortunately they had run out of it….
While we still had some room, we decided to sample the desserts on offer and ordered both the Dark Chocolate Mousse and the Pistachio Kanafeh
The Dark Chocolate Mousse was a revelation. The chefs had infused whipped cream with espresso coffee beans and dipping the rich chocolate mousse into this infusion one really gets a little taste of heaven on earth. A sort of mocha impact, a reverse cappuccino effect. The Pistachio Kanafeh, a shredded filo pastry baked with curd in a rosewater, pistachio nut syrup was equally ethereal. We were in agreement that Shoo Shoo Nolita’s dessert making prowess is worthy of recommendation. Yum!
To wash down the rich desserts, we shared a pot of Moroccan Tea, minty and refreshing. Served in a carafe with a very cute handle cover
Shimon Maman, the chef co-owner behind Shoo Shoo certainly gets a thumbs up from us at taste2taste for this great addition to the established field of Israeli eateries in the City. Check it out and see if you agree