Lunchtime in the covered market in Istanbul is a culinary experience. In the Ottoman version of take away, swarms of copper trays laden with plates of steamy aromatic foods float high above the heads of shoppers weaving their way through the market, If the sight and smells of these foods does not spur your appetite I don't know what will.
The food was there, but the kashrut wasn't, so we passed, but just till we got back to Tel Aviv, where we enjoyed authentic Turkish cuisine at kosher Pasha Restaurant.
Pasha Kosher Restaurant in Tel Aviv
Pasha is a good size restaurant, easy to find, on Haarbaa Street near Carlebach, directly across the street from the Cinematheque. The restaurant caters to individuals, small parties and groups, with bar seating, tables for four and plenty of space for groups.
Even before we ordered we appreciated the small details, like the Oriental-style music, dishes with an Oriental design, and the matching uniforms with the restaurant logo, worn by the staff. The logo appears on the place mat and on labels, adding a bit of class to the dining experience. Erdogan may not approve, but Pasha has a full and attractive bar with cocktails, wine, and a variety of alcoholic drinks..
The menu offers a good selection of ethnic Turkish dishes, but you don't have to go that way. Most of the dishes are meat, but again, you don't have to go that way. Stuffed vegetables are the specialty of the house. These are mostly filled with meat, but you don't have to go that way. We chose a veggie starter of squash and eggplant filled with rice, served in a lovely tomato sauce. This was nicely balanced by an order of deliciously seasoned green salad with slivers of almonds. Kusbara was listed as an ingredient in this salad, but it was so unobtrusive that the salad was palatable even for folks who are not fans of this herb.
I enjoyed the fish fillet main course, which would have been a very conventional dish were it not for the side dish of rice with vegetables. We added this to the main course. The rice gave the dish just enough ethnic zing without going overboard. My companion was in ethnic heaven, trying to decide between Turkish Kubeh, Lachme Joun, Masahne (tenderloin on a pita), and lamb Moussakhan. He was especially happy with his main course of rolled chicken breast stuffed with pistachio and and cashew nuts, served with a barbeque sauce. This was plated very attractively in a star configuration. .
The taboun oven behind the bar, is put to good use at Pasha. First, for the fresh warm pitot, a wonderful start to the meal. A good number of dough-based dishes are baked in the taboun, as well as kebabs, giving them a very unique flavor. The Kadaif, a wonderful Turkish dessert, is also baked in the taboun oven.
One of the many wonderful things that the Turks brought to civilization is Halvah. Pasha carries Halvah one step further with their dessert of halvah filled with ice cream. More than enough for two, we suggest that this dessert be shared.
Prices: Note that dining at Pasha is a culinary experience, and an opportunity to try many different flavors. Main courses are served with a small side vegetable. Rice and other side
dishes come at extra cost. The basic main course runs just under 100 shekels per guest. Then add specialty Turkish dishes as you like.