"It's where?" I asked. "In Yehud. Do you know where that is?" replied my editor.
"Isn't that by the airport?" "Yes, I'm sure you'll find it. It'll be nice for you to get out of the city."
And so it was that husband and I, a couple of die hard Tel Avivians set off to Yehud, armed with our 'Tel Aviv and Her Environs' road map, water, sunscreen, and other out-of-city travel accouterments.
Just 15 minutes later we were surprised to find ourselves arrived at Charly located in the old Avia hotel. Opened 8 months ago, owner Michal was looking to fill a niche with her restaurant, so she chose an Asian brasserie in Yehud – a city lacking Far Eastern flavours. Snugly nestled between several taller towers, we were dumbfounded by the beautifully vast expanse of parking that lay before us. "Can't get this in Tel Aviv" remarked husband, as he gingerly maneuvered the Mazda into an ample space.
When you walk into Charly, the first word that comes to mind is tranquility, which came as a surprise in a city better known for family style Eastern grill houses than gourmet goods. But owner Michal and Chef Vital have set their sites on putting Yehud on the culinary map.
The restaurant has 2 spacious, open dining rooms, one of which is a patio that overlooks the pool and can be hired for private parties of up to 50. The décor is minimalist wood and rather restrained. Even with a bustling Saturday afternoon lunch crowd, you can barely hear anything from other tables, even those with kids, a testament to Charly's excellent acoustics. Or perhaps the kiddies were too busy enjoying their NIS 39 kid's menu dishes to bother making a fuss.
We started with a Choyatini, a delicious cocktail of raspberry vodka, choya and litchi. Downing the tinis, we were quick to get our sushi party started. We sampled 4 different maki rolls, including an excellent salmon skin roll and Caribbean shrimp roll, containing shrimp, mango, avocado, and cucumber, which were an inventive twist on more traditional fare. We were also quite tickled that the well sized rolls proved to be the perfect single bite.
Starters were served post sushi. At Michal's insistence, we tried the red tuna tartar salad with avocado, beets, spring onion and wasabi peas served on a bed of crispy glass noodles. The tartar turned a cooked food advocate into a raw fish enthusiast. Next came tempura shrimp and the best tom yam soup I've ever had. The lemongrass, kafir lime, and coriander were well proportioned and the coconut milk base perfectly balanced the spice and sour.
The main dish was a seafood paradise – shrimp, calamari, mussels, asparagus, broccoli and basil leaves in a mild green curry. The normally seafood hating husband was enticed to try mussels for the first time and would have sopped up every last drop of the curry sauce if bread were served with Thai meals.
Finally, it was time for dessert. Feeling like it was time to fly back from Asia towards our European confectionary roots, we chose the Belgian chocolate rectangle, a dense chocolaty praline-like hunk covered in chocolate ganache and drizzled with vanilla sauce.
Satiated and sleepy, I nodded off on the car ride back. Never having thought we'd willingly leave the city for a meal, we now felt that our horizons had been broadened. Husband is already planning to take advantage of the stellar business lunch specials with the guys from the office. As for me…I'm arranging a Choyatini night with the girls.
4a Derech HaHoresh, Yehud