SHUK, Sydney – Restaurant Review
‘The Shuk’, commonly known to locals in Jersualem as the ‘Mahane Yehuda Market’ is a marketplace with hundreds of vendors flogging their fresh produce to locals and visitors. Taking from this, SHUK is the newest Israeli-inspired cafe/bakery/deli in Bondi, who place importance on creating modern dishes with the best fruit and vegetables available. This small (80 seater) eatery is the creation of Yoni Kalfus, previously of Surry Hills’, Café Mint. The menu theme is a personal reflection of what the chef grew up feasting upon and cooking himself while living in Israel.
Arriving early on a Friday eve, the restaurant was not yet buzzing but didn’t lack atmosphere. A hot tip from a local resident on the bus giving me directions said that ‘it was really popular and was always packed’, perhaps the rain had driven everyone away towards comfort foods and blanketed surrounds. However, for me, the relaxed vibe and soothing beige decor, with lush plant arrangements littered about, was the perfect surrounding in which to wind-down.
After nibbling on bread generously dunked and re-dunked in oil and Dukkah spices, I began my meal with the Haloumi with walnut, honey & coriander seed starter. The wads of cheese were smeared with honey that was fried to perfection and caramelised on both sides. The flavour of the seared rubbery cheese perfectly complemented the lathering of caramel that had formed in the pan with the fresh figs and peppery rocket salad. The dish was texturally assisted with crunch from raw walnuts and coriander seeds that popped between bites. An interesting and full favoured dish that was perfectly portioned.
This was followed with the Atlantic salmon on a bed of zucchini, served with potatoes & asparagus with preserved lemon emulsion. Usually not a fan of fish skin, I broke the seared skin with my fork and gobbled the lot. The salmon was cooked to perfection and was best eaten with the acidic emulsion which was really potent in flavour but complimented the fish well.
I also sampled the roast beef with generous vegetables. The beef was expertly cooked rare and enjoyed with mounds of sweet potato and capsicum, drizzled with a herby dressing.
To complete my previously unexplored adventure into tasty Israeli cuisine, I finished the meal with the Chocolate Mousse Cake & Chantilly Cream. Each greedy mouthful was carefully layered to fit the berry compote, cream, mousse cake and its crunchy meringue type base. A glorious, deceivingly light dessert was great ending to a delicious, flavoursome meal.
View the menu and find out more about SHUK via their website.
Shuk review by Carol Bowditch.