Miazaki is perhaps the most anticipated food project in Shuk Tzafon (North Market). Miazaki is Yuval Ben Neriah’s (of Taizu fame) interpretation on a Japanese “Izakaya”. Traditionally Japanese Izakayas are a combination of a Japanese grill bar and a gastropub where food is served to accompany the drinks. The food being in the form of small dishes to be snacked while drinking. I think that in that sense the experience in Miazaki is far from the source. Not only are they focused on food rather than drinks, the bar chairs were bolted together so you couldn’t sit there. The only option is to pick up your lunch tray and go to find a table in one of Shuk Tzafon’s seating courts, which while being indoors provide little insulation from the cold. In addition, the experience of eating outside is not very pleasant – the indoor balcony is very crowded and the wooden floor decks transmit every vibration or movement caused by people walking or dragging chairs directly into your spine.
Miazaki is part of a new culinary wave in Israel that aims to target authentic Japanese street food rather than your run-of-the-mill sushi joint as It follows in the footsteps of Oban Koban, Hiro and Boazu.
On their site they promise to deliver Japanese street food mixed with local ingredients. An example of this is their Tabasaki dish, a twist on Japanese Ramen which in this variation is based on chicken broth and also includes Turkish Spinach and Fava beans. Besides three ramen dishes, the menu includes a variety of skewers grilled using a Robata grill. This imported grill was specially made for Miazaki, and is prominent throughout their menu.
The place was opened for a run-in period at the beginning of the week and we’ve already managed to sample their menu on two separate occasions during lunchtime. The first was in the middle of the week. At the counter awaited some queue, and while waiting we could see Yuval Ben Neriah working with his staff in the kitchen. The dishes took around 15 minutes to be ready after ordering.
We went with the Tabasaki (54₪\$14), which was comprised of chicken broth, thin wheat noodles, bonito, boiled egg, fava bean paste, Turkish spinach, scallion, black sesame oil and young chicken skewer. The skewer was soft and nicely grilled. The soup itself was fun and rich in flavor. A perfect hot and comforting dish for a cold and gloomy day, especially given the winter-y weeks we’ve had of late. The chicken broth serves as a good background for the ingredients, giving them flavor and contrast but I’m not sure that it stands on it’s own. It’s not the type of broth you slurp up until the very last drop.
My lunch partner ordered the Saishoko (54₪\$14), a vegetarian ramen with thin wheat noodles, vegetable soup, soft boiled egg, scallion, fava beans, Turkish spinach, grilled sweet corn, roasted avocado, togarashi and a tofu-mushroom skewer. She enjoyed it quite a bit.
We also had a side of Roasted Avocado (18₪\$4.5), with aioli ouzo, scallions and red chili. It was tasty, mainly because of the fresh avocado. I’ll say this about their dishes – they’re very aesthetically pleasing.
The second visit was on a rainy Saturday. This is there was no queue even though Shuk Tzafon was crowded with people. This time we chose two different main dishes and two side dishes. The first was Aburamen (54₪\$14), literally “father of ramen”, which is basically a ramen without soup. It included thin wheat noodles, condensed sweet chicken sauce, soft boiled egg, grilled sweet corn, black mushrooms, Togarashi oil, nori seaweed, grilled avocado (that didn’t appear in the menu) and young chicken skewer on top. Every component had a great taste: the sweet chicken sauce added a creamy sense to the firm noodles and the sweet corn provided a crunchy kick. The combination of it all made a fine and generous meal.
For the second main dish we went for the Grilled Salmon Skewer (49₪\$12.5). They are glazed with Tare – the homemade sauce consisting of Soy, mirin and sake. In addition you get pickles, miso – sesame sauce and a choice of either round steamed rice or steamed buns. It was an amazing dish – both the Tare as well as the miso – sesame sauce were excellent, the grilled fish was moist and soft with charred crispy bits, and the green salad was eaten to its last leaf.
The Toro Salmon (28₪\$7) with cucumbers, wakame seaweed, grilled salmon belly, punzo and mascarpone cheese is pre-prepared and awaits inside plastic containers in a refrigerator besides the counter. Nevertheless it was flavorful and I can definitely see it working as a slightly bigger main dish.
The other side dish we ordered was the Grilled Beet (16₪\$4) with miso honey sauce, akmonds and nori seaweed, which cam in a plastic container as well. Cute dish with a superb sauce.
Miazaki offer three desserts: black sesame tartlet filled with yuzu cream, white chocolate truffles with black and white tea and financier. We wanted to taste the first two but they were out of the yuzu tartlet to our disappointment. The White Chocolate Truffles with Black and White Tea (14₪\$3.5) was nice but overly sweet and the tea flavor was faint. But then again, the Israeli palette is so different from the Japanese one, they were bound to make some adjustments for the local audience.
Don’t expect Japanese ramen prices (read: cheap), but we definitely felt like we were getting our money’s worth. We’ll surely be back to taste the rest of Miazaki’s intriguing menu. The next time you visit Shuk Tzafon, Miazaki should certainly be on your list. Wondering what else you can find in Shuk Tzafon (North Market)? Check out our yummy post.