by Sybil Kaplan
Photographs by Barry A. Kaplan
Khan - Orient Hotel
Emek Refaim 3
Phone - 02 569-9090
Hours: Sunday through Thursday--10 a.m. for beverages, 11 a.m. for food to 11 p.m. when kitchen
closes or 12 midnight when bar closes
Friday and Saturday--same hours, different cold menu
Since mid-December, the Khan lobby restaurant has had a new menu, according to Chef Michel Nabet, from Toulon, France. He has been Executive Chef at the Orient for the past year and a half; previously, he was eight years at the King David Hotel.
When it was decided to make the food at the Khan a "Jerualem experience," a new menu (with a few of the popular items from the old menu) was created.
On the evening, we visited, our hostess was Danit, assistant food and beverage manager, with the Orient since it opened in July of 2017 (She was with the King David Hotel previously.)
To reach the Khan Lobby Restaurant, you walk through the hotel lobby to the back and turn left. First is a small eating area with tables and 10 seats. An open divider, with soft lights, separates it from the main dining area with 70 seats at dark wood tables and padded leather chairs and some couches with pillows.
The beautiful chandliers are draped lace; the two large windows looking out in the distance to Emek Refim, have tie-back curtains of similar lace material.
An open wall with soft lights divides this room from the bar, which has 14 seats. Bottles sit on shelves against a mirrored wall.
The English and Hebrew menus are inside material-covered notebooks.
On the menu are 5 Salads, ranging from NIS 58-69; 3 Appetizers, NIS 49-52; 2 Soups, NIS 45;
4 Jerusalem Specialties, NIS 68 to 88; 3 Mama's Pastas, NIS 70 to 73; 3 Shimmy the Fisherman, NIS 98 to 118; 4 Desserts NIS 42 to 60.
On the Beverages pages, there are 12 cold drinks, 2 types of beer and 10 hot drinks. The separate Wine Menu lists 31 wines and 71 alcohol choices. A separate stock card lists 7 cocktails.
Chef Michel and Danit were our hosts--very knowledgeable and very attentive.
The first dish they brought us to sample was Salmon Kanafeh (NIS 75)--seared salmon, poached egg, spinach, feta cheese and aioli atop kanafeh, the noodle-like pastry or fine semolina dough one usually associates with the blintz-shaped dessert. This was served cold and utterly delicious.
Next came a Quinoa dish with cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber, basil, red onion, and radishes (NIS 58). This was a good blend and only a little spicy.
The "Jerusalem Specialty" was Eggplant Kadaif (NIS 68), served in a mini metal frying pan. (Kadaif is a type of thin noodle, usually made with shredded phyllo dough.) Grilled eggplant, goat cheese, goat yogurt, roasted pine nuts and pistachio nuts sat atop kanafeh; micro basil leaves garnished the dish. A slice of Freno bread topped with za'atar sat on top; an Israeli tomato salad was on the side. Again, a wonderful blend of Israeli items.
For this cold night, next was Vegetable Soup (NIS 45), described as a winter soup with Freekah. (Freekah is high in protein, high in fiber and low in fat, a cereal made from unripened wheat that has been roasted and crushed into small pieces, looking like barley.) My companion said it was just like the vegetable soup I make where every possible vegetable (and some you're not quite sure what they are) are included. Those we could identify were carrots, spinach, and yellow squash, cut into tiny pieces and just a little spicy.
Next, in a very original presentation, was an appetizer, Salmon Sashimi (NIS 48). This was served in a Chinese wood bowl with bamboo-trimmed lid on a wood palette. Salmon pieces, radish slices, cabbage and cherry tomatoes could be accompanied by an avacado-wasabi cream and or dipped into a sauce made of soy sauce, sesame oil, coriander and spicy chili, with chopstiks on the side.
From Shimmy the Fisherman, Fish Kebab (NIS 110) was served in a silver cooking dish with handles. Chick peas, fennel, eggplant and onion were grilled then combined with goat yogurt and raw tahini and garnished with coriander. Beautifully prepared, the fish was very tasy, especially if fish is not your favorite food.
Since it was my companion's birthday, the wait staff and Danit came out with real Kanafeh (NIS 60) , shaped liked a little cake, served on a tiny footed tagine with a lid, over a lit candle, with an extra lit candle next to it, singing Happy Birthday. A simple syrup was poured on top of the kanafeh made with ricotta cheese and goat cheese.
Breakfasts are available at the main dining room downstairs at NIS 160 per person from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday, all named according to different areas in the country and featuring foods of those areas.
There is no doubt the Khan Lobby Restaurant is a great place for creative, gourmet dairy food for a treat or for a special occasion.
The author and photographer were guests of the restaurant.