After a week in Tel Aviv, I was craving for some Asian food. In the adjacent hotel, the signboard for Pacific Bistro and Sushi Bar beckons.
By calling itself a bistro-sushi bar, Pacific is proclaiming that it offers a menu that includes at least certain elements of French and Japanese cuisine. Somebody goofed. The first mistake was leaving the decor of the Thai restaurant that had been there fully intact. By leaving the red and black walls, lanterns, tablecloths, napkins, filigreed woodwork and high-backed lacquered chairs in place, the atmosphere is far too close to San Francisco’s Chinatown and about as far from either Paris or Tokyo as one can get.
The second mistake was designing a menu that, by being somewhat evenly divided into French, Japanese and Thai dishes, leaves diners with nothing more than the kind of internationalised cookery that can be found at far too many mass-market restaurants worldwide. Please don’t be misled by the name; there is NO Sushi there, at least not the type I am familiar with. When I asked why, the Maître d’ explained that “it used to be….but not anymore”. The menu is a fusion of Israeli and oriental food.
First, they serve a basket with fresh small breads, one of them whole wheat. Ditto, a nice platter with three dips: dry tomato, garlic confit and olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Not very inventive or original, but tasty though, especially the garlic confit.
Tempura rolls are basically deep fried maki or uramaki rolls. Tempura itself is basically a method of frying fish or vegetables in a light batter made of flour, water, and eggs. In other words, the western love of deep fried everything has even made it to the sushi world. Unfortunately, this was the only sushi available, and it was deep fried only so lightly that the tempura coating did not even bother to stick.
Looking through the French section of the menu, I couldn’t pick out anything interesting. Then it caught my eyes – Thai red curry with beef – finally something I would enjoy perhaps. I was disappointed. It was just a stir-fry beef strips with French beans and cherry tomatoes. There wasn’t much curry. Served on a plate of steamed basmati rice, it was quite a letdown.
The pear kanafe – pear almond pastry dessert with angel hair pasta and vanilla ice cream. Nice, sweet, made up for the disastrous dinner.
If you are looking for sushi, don’t bother. Come to think about it, don’t bother coming ashore are much better restaurants around here.
Pacific Bistro and Sushi Bar
Hayarkon 145, Tel Aviv, Israel