Greece, so close, yet so far. The Israeli kitchen has adopted very little from Greek cuisine. On the one hand that is a shame, because Greek cuisine has a lot that we can learn from. On the other hand, a visit to a Greek restaurant will be a unique experience for most Israelis used to the humus and techina menu.
ZOI Restaurant in Kfar Saba is
a good introduction to Greek Cuisine. This is a dairy restaurant offering classic Greek dishes including the yogurt based foods and fish. Don't expect the pizza and the pasta. This is another kind of cuisine, and if you love dairy foods, you're gonna love this.
We were served by a friendly waitress who gave us all the guidance we needed about the menu and specials. I love a restaurant where I can taste a lot of different dishes without going overboard. ZOI is one of those restaurants where the mini-appetizers - tapas - are the star of the menu. The tapas give you a small taste of a wide selection of the chef's talents. I counted about two dozen tapas on the menu. These are all very tempting and I started to wonder if perhaps I should make the whole meal a selection of these appetizers. Apparently I was not the first to think of this. From 5pm to 7pm ZOI restaurant offers a selection of 10 tapas, which could be a whole meal, for the fee of NIS 220. Way to go.
On this visit to ZOI restaurant we each chose two tapas and a main dish. Each tapas is about two bites worth, so if you are sharing, be prepared for small portions.
Tzatziki is an absolute must at Greek restaurants. This is a yogurt based dip, loaded with cucumbers and herbs. Sserved cold, Tzatziki is often thought of as a summer dish, but I can eat it year round. The Tzatziki at ZOI was thick and creamy (as opposed to the loose runny kind) and was excellent, I have been trying to replicate this dish since we were there, to no avail. We ate the Tzatziki tapas without bread, which is our complement to the chef. It needed nothing.
In Greek cuisine there are always a lot of cheese and vegetable filled dishes. (There are also many lactose free dishes as well, on the menu.) The cheese-filled breaded mushroom, another tapas, was delicious, and although large, the single mushroom was definitely a one-person, not-to-share dish.
Playing it safe, for our third appetizer I chose the roasted eggplant. I was not disappointed.
The roasted pepper stuffed with Feta cheese, also a classic Mediterranean dish, was also very pleasing. We had all of these tapas without bread, but note that ZOI's house bread made with olives, has a reputation, and I regretted not trying it. On your visit, be sure to try the bread.
For his main, my companion chose Koloraki Fish sandwich (shown above). Wrap your mouth around that one, Dagwood. Cut in two, the sandwich was easier to negotiate. My companion was quite happy with his choice, and downed it with a glass of beer.
I am not at a Greek restaurant for sandwiches! I went right for the Spanakopita served with a fresh salad.
Spankopita is a classic Greek pastry made of phyllo dough filled with spinach and feta cheese. The ZOI Spanakopita pastry is wound around, in a snake-like pie. This is my kinda food. I am not being modest when I say that the ZOI version was much better than the one I make at home. The portion was generous so we left with a doggy bag. It never tastes the same warmed up at home, so I suggest that you eat the dishes at the restaurant.
Although we did not choose fish at this visit, the fish dishes are among this restaurant's specialties. Located in the market, the fish comes straight from the fisherman’s net every day.
Who could eat dessert after all this delicious food? My companion can, so we ended the meal with a lovely cup of coffee and the Knafe from the dessert menu. I thought Knafe was a middle eastern dessert. I guess we won't be picky about the origin. The ZOI Knafe was a pie-shaped dessert made with noodles, sugary syrup and cheese. Unlike the appetizers, one dessert easily stretches for two diners.
ZOI is a good find, and worth the visit.
Where is ZOI Restaurant and Where to Park
ZOI is located in an inner courtyard of the Kfar Saba Market square. It is not immediately obvious when entering the market from the parking area. We had to ask.
The Market has a parking lot with a limited
number of spaces. As this is a market, there is a fair amount of turn over in the spaces. There is also street parking in the area of the Market.