There’s a running joke among American Jews living in Israel that it can be easier to find a kosher restaurant in New York City than in Tel Aviv. At least if you don’t keep kosher in Tel Aviv there’s seemingly no shortage of places that serve a variety shellfish such as shrimp or pork dishes or even “kosher-style” eateries that might have meat exclusively and not mix it with any dairy or might not use kosher butchered meat or is open on the Sabbath or holidays rendering the establishment de facto ineligible for kosher (“kashrut”) certification.
So for Israelis who try to keep kosher and still like to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv’s acclaimed nightlife a new kosher restaurant and even an emerging chain, with even just three locations, that serves not only kosher cuisine but quality, affordable and fairly original dishes, the Dim Sum Shop (or more accurately Shops) will offer a pleasant alternative and welcome addition to the Tel Aviv culinary scene.
For those not familiar, Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese Chinese cuisine that features bite size treats that one picks from an assembles their meal from an almost infinite array of selections often served as steamed dumplings (gyoza) or pastries filled with a wide assortment of fillings including meat, seafood or vegetables. At non-kosher Dim Sum joints in China or in San Francisco’s China Town often servers bring tray carts around to diners at tables with dumplings or buns stuffed with shrimp, chicken, beef or pork with rice and or veggies such as cabbage, mushrooms and onions.
At Tel Aviv’s three kosher Dim Sum Shop/s, there are still currently 17 Dim Sum to choose from with more expected on the way. I dined as a guest of the owner and chef at their 61 Ibn Gvirol location. There’s only sidewalk tables and seats and an open air kitchen & service counter but the place has been open only seven months and its got a clean yet hip vibe to it. Menus are in Hebrew and English on the same four page pamphlet and it’s pretty easy to make sense of even if you’ve never had Dim Sum before.
You can order the Dim Sum of your choice in a set of 3, 5, 8 or 10 Dim Sum selections a la carte without any side dishes. This way 3 bite size choices are NIS 20, 5 are NIS 30, 8 are NIS 45 and 10 are NIS 55. The Dim Sum also come available as part of packaged meal specials in either Mix Dim Sum, Veggie Sum, Meat Sum or Choose Sum combos which include either 5 preselected Dim Sum or as the last choice indicates your pick of any ranging from NIS 45 to NIS 49, a pretty reasonable price considering what it includes. For only NIS 19 NIS more than the al carte 5 piece price, the diner receives a side dish such as Asian Chicken salad (which I chose and was quite satisfied with) or one of the other salad or noodle selections. Their take on Korean kimchi also comes as a bonus side automatically with the chosen side of your choice and features fresher than the traditional vegetable dish in a less puckering vinegar resulting in a more refreshing salad than is buried in jars in back yards in both North and South Korea. Also a cup of jasmine ice tea comes along unsweetened (with a sugar syrup at the table if so desired) to complete the meal.
I indulged on both the meat and veggie combos to be able it to potentially recommend to all of my friends (and readers): carnivore, omnivores and grazing vegans. And I do. Even though I prefer to be at the top of the food chain I thoroughly enjoyed the veggie selections as well. The five meat selections in the Meat Sum combo are Chicken Gyoza, Beef Gyoza, Sweet and Sour Gyoza, Chicken BBQ and Chicken & Cashew Koyo. The Veggy Sum combo comes with Root Vegetable Gyoza, Stir-Fry Vegetable Gyoza, Mushroom Gyoza, Sweet Potato Gyoza and Root Vegetable & Tofu Koyo. The Dim Sum are served your choice of any two sauces from their five: Soy, Teriyaki, Sweet Chili, Chili with Lemon and my favorite Peanut Sauce. I had to try so many Dim Sum just so I could try all the sauces (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and I was happy I did.
The Dim Sum are also available to take home frozen with steamer baskets of different sizes are also for sale. Delivery is available but only with a kilometer or two so that food arrives fresh at your door. They’re taking their quality control very seriously which befits their seriously good food. They’re typically open 11am until Midnight Sunday through Thursday, Friday 11am until 5PM (closing early for the Sabbath) and reopening after the Sabbath and open until Midnight on Saturday nights. 03-527-8989 or www.dimsumshop.co.il
Dim Sum isn’t supposed to be fine dining yet the Dim Sum offers healthy Cantonese style casual dining at its best at a great the value and for the quality of the food I’d give the restaurant 4 out 5 stars with the only drawback being if you want to eat there there’s no non-smoking seating with all the seats on the sidewalk but if you don’t mind it’s a great place to people watch in Tel Aviv and they have great ways to take their dishes home fresh or frozen for cooking/steaming when your next crazing for DIm Sum strikes.