Written by on March 28, 2011 in I Eat Haifa, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Merkaz HaCarmel, Haifa, Israel

How I heard of this place:  I first heard of Giraffe through my friend Sadiq, nearly two years ago when I was visiting Haifa.

Type of cuisine: Asian fusion, with a bit of everything from an Afghan dish to one inspired by Malaysian cuisine, others Thai-inspired and still others with a Japanese flair.

Ambiance: Somewhat unassuming, the wrought-iron framed door and floor-to-ceiling windows of this store-front restaurant almost keeps you guessing as to how to get inside. The black and red decor fits the stereotypical Asian theme in this fusion restaurant. The bar, directly ahead of you and to the right as you enter the space spans the length of the entry way and towards the back wall, with, what appears to be, plethy of drinking options. To the left, chairs and tables are cozily pushed together in the small space, while black, faux-leather cusioned bench seating is available at tables along the wall. A back room (where I sat the last time) gives a more private dining experience to patrons, with fewer seating options and a very enclosed enclave, white walls, black tables and sparse decor. Music plays in the background, softly, so that diners can hold conversations without having to raise their voices. Servers all match, wearing white t-shirts and black bottoms, long aprons to cover.

What I ordered: I ordered the Afghan Dish (53 Israeli shekels), a cup of white rice, sprinkled with spring onions served on the side of a wok-fried chicken, bacon, garlic, leeks and a sweet, dark, thin soy sauce with caramel. One of my dining companions ordered the Malaysian Dish (48 Israeli shekels), consisting of noodles and vegetables, served very green. The second of my dining companions ordered a sirloin dish I was also eyeing (52 Israeli shekels), served with rice and spring onions, sauteed chunks of sirloin beef with mushrooms, served with a sweet & spicy Szechuan sauce.

On a return visit Saturday, 23 April 2011: My friends invited me over for dinner and we had take-out from Giraffe Asian Food. The entrees were delivered in thick, brown, boxes that resemble the flimsy white ones we often associate with Chinese take-out in the United States; but are more colorful, with newsprint style words/artwork. The plastic bag which held the contents of our take-out (and delivery) order, had a separate, smaller pocket on the outside, going up the bag about a third of the way, which held the napkins and chopsticks. The order placed was for Philippine Acute (49NIS), egg noodles with chicken, coconut milk, red curry, scallions, peanuts and coriander (cilantro leaves); Malaysian Noodles (48NIS), with noodles, chicken, onions and served, tossed in a sauce, coating all of the noodles and chicken in a bright green; Fried Rice (51NIS), with pieces of chicken, grated carrots, spring onions, bean sprouts and scallions, in a spicy sauce with scrambled egg. The fried rice was my favorite of these three dishes – moist, and flavorful.

What I loved:  I only sampled my own dish, but loved the intensity of flavor in the sauce, the lightness of the rice and lack of overwhelming portions in my dish!

Why I loved it: The food is flavorful and diverse, pleasing any Asian food craving one may have in Haifa. The prices are reasonable and the service friendly. I especially love that no one in Haifa is ever rushed to leave or feels the need to get out of the hair of any establishment. Giraffe is no different.

Cost: Average ($10-$12 per dinner entree)

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