by Sybil Kaplan
Photographs by Barry A. Kaplan
Agripas St. 74
Phone 02 581-7178
Kosher - Rabbanut Jerusalem
(all meat is Chalak bet Yosef or Mehedrin; vegetables are Gush Katif)
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 5 p.m. until last customer
Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday evening, 1 hour after Shabbat ends until last customer
Zakai Huja has been around the shuk all of his life because his dad is owner of Avner Dagim, the fish store on Tapuach Street. After graduating the culinary program at Hadassah College and working as a chef at Canella, Cafe Kadosh, Angelica and Laura (where we met him), he and two friends, Rafi Revivo and Yotam Nissim, decided they wanted to open an upscale, gourmet, kosher restaurant near the shuk.
In March 2013, Jacko's Street opened (Jacko is Zakai's friends' nickname for him). After more than a year running with people continually calling days ahead for reservations, Mor Revivo, manager, says Jacko's is as popular as ever.
Looking in from the bar side or the restaurant side, Zakai and three Jewish chefs are clearly visible in the kitchen, working and enjoying themselves.
Outside on Shikma are round wood tables looking through glass windows into the restaurant; one window is filled with wine bottles. Come down a few steps into the divided main dining room--off-white planks make up one wall with some high tables and bar stools seating 8; further back is the bar with 10 seats. Behind the bar, one can look into the open kitchen. On the wall above both sides of the open kitchen are decorative street signs.
A column by the restaurant side of the kitchen serves as a bulletin board with customer's comments.
The main restaurant dining area, including a booth and tables, only seats 20 but another 3 can sit at a counter looking into the kitchen. Don't worry about hurting the glassed-in floor area with wine bottles underneath; it's fun to walk over. The rest of the restaurant floors are rough cement; the walls are natural.
On the menu, there are 13 appetizers from NIS 38-64. We tried four.
Chopped Chicken Livers (NIS 58) were served on a black plate with hazelnut biscotti and caramelized mini eggplants which were surprisingly sweet and delicious andbgarnished with micro baby leaves. My companion said, this looks like my mother used to make.
I loved the chopped liver on the sour dough bread from the nearby Teller bakery--served to all customers. Today there were three dips accompanying the bread--dried tomatoes, aioli and eggplant--none particularly spicy but mild and flavorful.
The next appetizer was Salmon Ceviche Tartar with cucumber melon in a shallot vinaigrette and wasabi sauce (NIS 54). Garnished with radish slices, it was very light, with just a tad of wasabi taste for those who tend to shy away from this.
Fresh Ravioli or Kurdish Ravioli is a house specialty inasmuch as Zakai's grandparents came from Kurdistan.The ravioli are stuffed with "siska," a long-cooked meat (cooked (8-10 hours) and served with shredded spinach and chick peas in a stock sauce (NIS 58). The sauce is a little tart, but if you've not tried Kurdish food, this is a wonderful starter.
With all fish in the restaurant coming from Zakai's dad, Grilled Fish Kabob (NIS 52) was a special, ultra-moist piece of chopped fish, dressed in a teriyaki sauce, which was shaped like kabob, and accompanied by a fruit salad.
Moving on to entrees, of which there are 10, ranging in price from NIS 68 to NIS 138, a Prime Cut Beef Hamburger, 250 grams (NIS 78) is served with lettuce, roasted onions, avocado aioli sauce, potatoes and a two-color cherry tomato salad. Every part of it was great (for big hamburger aficionados), but my companion was tickled by the tiny mini dill pickles.
Our second entree was Salmon Fillet on Leek Risotto (NIS 88), moist and tasty, in an olive oil and lemon sauce and served with asparagus.
A business lunch is also available at Jacko's as well as the chef's "tasting menu" for NIS 300.
Beverages ,wines and alcoholic drinks are also available.
Sorry, we did not try any of the three desserts made daily. That day, they were chocolate cake (NIS 35); chocolate tart with whipped cream (NIS 38); and "solers," a jar with layers of mango cream, chopped peaches, cherries, meringue and nuts (NIS 38).
Jacko's is not pretentious, but it is gourmet; it is not over priced, but it is upscale. It's casual decor and friendly, informative wait staff add to one having a really fun place to dine well and come again and again.
The wrter and photographer were guests of the restaurant.