By COLlive reporter
Forget everything you know about falafel!
A new kosher meat restaurant opening next week in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood is promising to give Israeli cuisine an ambitious and trendy overall.
Yuda Schlass says the goal of “Alenbi” is to “give Israeli food the proper respect with bold flavors, spices, and herbs that don’t have to be limited to a pita.”
Raised in Jerusalem, his Lubavitcher parents both have a passion for food and regularly host guests at their Shabbos table in the Old City. His father owned a kosher restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village in the 60s and 70s.
“What’s unique about Israeli food is that they use seasonal and fresh ingredients,” Yuda Schlass says. “When you shop at the Shuk or elsewhere, what you are buying was picked a few hours earlier in the north or south of Israel. You taste the difference in the produce.”
Since moving to the U.S., Schlass tried to bring an entrepreneurial approach to the food industry. He did so with the Fresh Diet delivery service, at Kitchensurfing by bringing chefs to people’s homes and most recently, the Hasid+Hipster pop-up sandwich shop.
What caught his attention 2 years ago were the fine dining establishments in the U.S. that were winning awards for serving Israeli inspired cuisine but were not under a kosher supervision.
“When I told people about my plan to open a place that would redefine Israeli food, the first thing everyone asked was, “shawarma and falafel?” That’s how people think of Israeli food and I know there is so much more than that,” Schlass told COLlive.com.
He sought out a location on Nostrand Avenue, between Carroll and Crown streets, brought an interior designer from Israel to create a modern yet rustic feel and had the decor shipped from Israel. It also boasts an open kitchen from which all dishes will be prepared during serving hours.
The menu, he says, “elevates ages-old traditional Israeli recipes, giving them a refined modern twist,” Schlass says. “There are lots of spices but the food is not necessarily spicy. We are using cumin, fennel and fresh herbs like cilantro, mint.”
The menu plays with Hebrew words and American lingo, such as Selek Cured Salmon (selek for beet), the Morrocan dish “Chraime” as sashimi striped bass, Carpaccio Egel which is cured veal tongue, Tunisai – cured wild tuna, and ribeye (or as they call it in Israel, entrecote).
Two staple bread will be baked in-house: Frenna Bread served with charissa, tahini and pickled vegetables and Jerusalem Bagel often sold by Arabs outside the Old City. It will be served with crushed tomatoes, tahini, charissa, za’atar and olives.
Their most used ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes is tahini from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. The one they used is from “Har Bracha Tahini,” a family-owned business in Mount Gerizim, Nablus. “It’s shipped in raw form especially for us,” Schlass notes.
Perhaps one of the most visionary dishes on their menu will be the “Falafel Tartare,” a combination of the popular deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas and the French serving method of raw beef or fish.
“We took a dish that everyone knows and gave a whole different twist while keeping the same ingredients and flavors,” Alenbi chef Elior Balbul proudly said. “Bread, sauce, and desserts – everything is made fresh. Nothing is processed.”
The “Falafel Tartare” is created out of white tahini, sumac onion, crispy chickpea, fava bean, coulis and amba, the coveted Middle East sauce. “If you close your eyes, it will taste like falafel, but not like anything you’ve ever had,” says Schlass.
The dessert consists of “Boker Tov” is house granola with cashew (parve) yogurt and honeycomb. There is the Israeli milk-based pudding called Malabi (once again, pareve) and a dessert titled Rechov Soomsoom (“Sesame Street”) made of chocolate ganache, halva, sesame brittle, blackberry and macadamia crunch.
And if you wondered, Alenbi is the name of the British military commander Edmund Allenby who entered Jerusalem on foot in 1917 out of respect for the Holy City. A popular street in Tel Aviv and the bridge between Israel and Egypt are named after him.
“We are Israel in New York,” Chef Balbul adds with a smile. “The atmosphere, food and decor come together, and will make everyone feel at home.”
Address: 887 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (347) 529-3739
Kashrus: OK Kosher
Hours: The restaurant will be open this Sunday, Oct. 22 by reservation only through alenbikitchen.com until they begin full activity.