When Tomer and I realized that we both had a free evening, we decided to take advantage of the situation and pay a visit to Sima– a kosher home-style restaurant that opened in Tel Aviv about a year and half ago which we still hadn't tried. Sima is located on Ha'Arba'ah Street, on the quiet side (very accessible, yet free of Tel Aviv's usual noise) which gives you a great feeling before you even go inside. The clean design welcomes you, along with the large tables, the lovely background music, and the waiters that seem happy to be there. What more can you ask for?
Well…as usual, you can always ask for something to eat. And at Sima's it is highly recommended that you do ask. Sima started out many years ago in the Machne Yehuda market in Jerusalem, and quickly became a pilgrimage point for those seeking tasty food and a homey feel. Tomer, who had once visited the famous Jerusalem restaurant, began mumbling various recommendations like: 'Ooh, I remember this one" and "you have to try this one." With Tomer's recommendations, and a little help from our funny and cheerful waitress Adi, we organized ourselves a splendid evening.
We started with the small salads that come to the table, 10 in all. Eggplant in mayonnaise, eggplant in chili, celery with apple, 'turshi' – pickled vegetables, lentil salad with tomatoes and red onion, bulgar, cabbage, sweet potato in chili, beetroot with onion, and Turkish salad. Specially baked house pitas were, of course, delivered with the salads. Amongst the salads, I personally became addicted to anything with chili, due to the great flavour combination which always left me wanting yet another bite, as well as the lentil salad, which was excellent.
One we'd finished munching on the salads, we readied ourselves for the starters. Tomer got the rice stuffed vine leaves, served with homemade tehina. There isn't a shadow of a doubt about one thing – with every bite that Tomer took of them, his smile deepened. Even though vine leaves are quite common in Israel, here at Sima's they showed us that a winning recipe made with love and skill always makes for a dish the likes of which you've never tasted elsewhere.
I got the 'Nablusia' kube; 2 pieces of fried kube, served with the same homemade tehina. The kube made me happy and content – exactly the size kube aught to be, perfectly fried so the oil isn't felt, and a taste that was simply marvelous.
After we'd finished the starters, our appetites were really getting going, so we motioned to Adi that it's time for the mains. A large plate holding lamb chops and mashed potatoes was placed in front of Tomer. The dish was no less than wonderful – a large portion, cooked exactly right, melt in your mouth, and most importantly, providing an entirely pleasurable experience.
I received the 'sinya' – a ground beef patty with tomatoes, pine nuts and tehina, sitting atop thinly sliced of potatoes and served in a sizzling hot pan. In order to remain faithful to the sensation I experienced while eating, and not overdo it with words, I will simply quote myself: 'Wow! Things like this don't exist!" And the best part of all is to know that, in fact, they do exist – but only at Sima's. Another thing that separates Sima from the crowd is that the dishes come out a surprisingly quick pace. From the moment we indicated we were ready, the dishes were placed in front of us in no less than 5 minutes. What a pleasure good service is!
When it came time for desserts, we were almost full, but how can you say no to a little something sweet at the end of the meal? After more than a little indecision, we decided to share a few desserts so we wouldn't fight over who's eating what. Phyllo stuffed with nougat, halvah and fruit, and chocolate coconut fingers arrived at the table. I gobbled up the nougat phyllo before Tomer could get to it – that's how good it was. I was less mad about the fruit, but perhaps that's because there's no competing with nougat, but Tomer really liked it. The chocolate coconut fingers were also very tasty – just sweet enough to give you a big smile, but not so sweet that it's too much.
After we'd finished dessert, we leaned back with pleasure, and remembered the old saying – home is where the heart is. After an evening like this, our hearts belong to Sima.
24 Ha'Arba'ah, Tel Aviv.