Minna Tomei

Written by on April 8, 2011 in I Eat Haifa, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(No website found at time of publishing) – Moshe Fliman 8, Haifa

How I heard of this place: My sister, Mojan, had eaten at this interesting concept restaurant several months prior and had been wanting to take her family (me, included) since I arrived in Haifa nearly two weeks ago. We finally found a day that worked for everyone!

Type of cuisine: Five kitchens, set in one establishment, each offering one style ofAsian cuisine. Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vientnamese and Thai cuisine, colorfully presented on the menu. Everything from the appetizers to the main entrees, beverages and desserts hint at a taste of this Asian fusion restaurant.

Ambiance: This restaurant is set in a mall, as are many of the dining venues in Haifa, as it were. We drove up, beyond the beautiful water views along the rocky and green juxtaposed hillside, making our way towards the Haifa Mall and Convention Center. Once there, we walked through the dessert-stoned pathway and to Minna Tomei. The bright colors set against a black backdrop welcomed us through the floor-to-ceiling windows and door encasing the majority of the establishment. Upon entry, we were greeted by our host who walked us past the bar, to our right, which was U-shaped and set against the windowed-kitchen. Large windows gazing onto the five kitchens, each separated by red, white, blue and yellow colored tiles in cubicle-style walls. Continuing our walk around the restaurant, we passed by more table and chair settings, in black wood and around the back to a raised space,climbing three steps, into the Japanese seating area. Our white tables with black trim were covered in a colorful paisley print table runner (paper, for easy disposal and clean-up), a heavy, steel container housing our eating utensils (forks, spoons, knives and chopsticks), and a small spouted pot, hosting the soya sauce. Long, black cushions lay alongside each of the four Japanese table settings. As we approached our seats, it became evident that the space underneath the tables was carved out so feet can dangle below (or touch, if one is tall enough).

What I ordered: The restaurant serves dishes family style and whatever is ready first is served first, followed by other dishes, as they are made ready. The two recommendations from Mojan and the friend with whom she dined on her last visit were ordered: Green Curry (52NIS), chicken, onion, leek, spinach, green peas, coconut milk and green curry sauce, served over rice; and Chicken Tikka Masala (55NIS), chicken marinated in yogurt and tomatoes, sour masala sauce, served with steamed white rice and garlic nan. We were interested in trying more from the five kitchens, and a noodle dish, so we chose the Broccoli Beef (57NIS), stir-fried beef strips, onion, broccoli, ginger, garlic, green onion and oyster beef sauce. Another friend had recommended the Chicken Chai Spring Roll (28NIS), so we decided to take her recommendation. A fried roll filled with chicken marinated in jasmine tea and honey, placed atop a squiggle of Mong bean sauce, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds and chives. We couldn’t turn down dessert, and decided to order two between all of us. We chose the Nuts Maki Roll (26NIS), a nuts mousse with chocolate chips crust and the Banana Loti (27NIS), crepe with caramelized banana and toffee sauce. When our desserts were presented, our server also brought my older nephew a glass of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, on the house. And, of course, we all had to sample the delicious treat!

What I loved: Of the main entrees, our unanimous favorite was the green curry. The broccoli beef was my second favorite, and the other dishes left a little to be desired. The tikka masala could have used more sauce and less gristle, the spring rolls needed more by way of vegetables and/or herbs. My brother-in-law felt that the beef tasted packaged, but my sister really enjoyed the grilled, burned flavor. The desserts were each fabulous! The nuts maki roll was light and mousse-like, and the chocolate chip crust was more like cocoa nibs, dark and slightly bitter. The banana crepe sweet and decadent.

Why I loved it: The space has beautiful decor, the staff are very friendly and accommodating and the presentation of each dish beautiful and well thought-out. I loved the Japanese seating area, the colorful five kitchens, open view through large windows behind the bar, and the large, open space. The food opens up a bit of diversity inethnic dishes that are sometimes difficult to find in Haifa and Israel.

Cost: Average to high (40NIS-70NIS per lunch entree)

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