Friday, April 29, 2011
We found our Mojo
An eclectic Asian restaurant is spiced just right to suit the local palate.
An extensive online search for the origin of the name Mojo produced many different options. The one chosen by the young owners of Tel Aviv’s Mojo – Street Kitchen is Asian, meaning “energy of life.” And their newly opened restaurant definitely has good energy.
Following their success in Netanya, the three owners of Mojo, all in their late 20s, decided to open a smaller place in the heart of Tel Aviv, and it looks as if they are doing just fine. Mojo offers a mixed Asian menu that covers many cuisines, from Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese to Indian, with traditional dishes many of which were modified by chef Oren Goldwasser to suit the local palate.
We decided to sit at the bar, overlooking the open kitchen, where five Chinese cooks were busy preparing orders and looking back at us. The attentive barman suggested that we taste the house cocktails. “They’re excellent,” he said, so we tried two and then one more and decided to come back and taste them all. Yes, they were very good, and we were happy we live within walking distance. My companion tasted the La Cross, a whiskey-based cocktail with saffron liqueur and pear juice (NIS 42) that was very refreshing. For me, the barman suggested a ladies’ cocktail. I am not usually a fan of what are known as “ladies’ drinks” (sweet and intoxicating) but agreed to taste this one, which was based on lychee liqueur with vodka and pomegranate juice (NIS 38). It was good and very pretty, but a little sweet for my taste.
All the dishes on the menu sounded good, but we were in the mood for Thai/Vietnamese, so we decided to go for the ban-ban chicken salad (NIS 32), which is basically a green salad made from very fresh lettuce hearts, cucumbers and chicken. The difference is in the dressing, which was basic but very precise – made from soy, sesame, ginger and garlic and sprinkled with peanuts and fresh coriander. The other starter we took was a dish of chicken sate (skewers) in curry sauce with mint (NIS 28). Both were very tasty – simple but well prepared.
The cocktails were finished and after another starter, the dim sum deli (NIS 28) – Asian dumplings filled with ground lean beef that was stir-fried with vegetables – I decided to try another cocktail.
Again I let the barman convince me, and the second cocktail, Mojo rising, was my favorite. It is made from crushed fresh coriander, spicy chili liqueur and pear schnapps. It may sound strange, but it is very good. The tastes complement each other and are perfect with Asian cuisine.
Next, a dish of fried calamari rings (NIS 38) landed in front of us. Apparently the hostess decided we just had to taste it, and she was right. It is a very generous plate of crispy and fresh calamari rings, one of the best we have tasted in Israel. We were almost sorry we had ordered a Pad Thai; but when it arrived, we decided it was a safe but good choice.
Another dish that was served was the Mojo sushi, which was good but not excellent. We are very picky about our sushi and felt that it was unnecessary.
Chef Goldwasser wants to bring local foodies the Asian tastes they love, such as sushi and Pad Thai and add less familiar dishes such as Asian hamburger with soy-Dijon sauce, Ban Mai sandwich and other fun dishes that mix various cuisines to create a new one.
Sushi seems to have become an obligatory part of every menu in local restaurants these days. I guess they go where the clientele takes them, but I feel that sushi should be left to those who are masters in the art of preparing it. Here there is a rather large selection, but we thought that although it was good, the strength of the place is the Thai and Vietnamese dishes (we didn’t really taste the Indian ones), and that’s more than enough.
Mojo offers business lunches between 12 and 5 p.m. for NIS 44-70 and children’s menu with Ninja schnitzel and Samurai hot dog for NIS 35 plus a small gift.
Definitely a place to come back to for a quick lunch or an easygoing supper.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant Mojo
– Street Kitchen, 86 Hahashmonaim St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 635-7777