When we passed by the Tahina Bar the term “Israeli Street Food” caught our eyes and made us stop to check out the menu in the window. While we tried to read the fine print, a patron (already sitting just inside the window where we were standing) looked up and gave us a big-mouthful-of-food smile and a thumbs-up. Yup, this place was quickly added to “our list” and only a few weeks passed before we took the dive!
When we seated ourselves inside, there were staff bopping around the confined space to groovy upbeat music, serving food and cleaning up messes. There were murmurs and munching from the people already eating. The chattering and clanking sounds being made only a couple of feet behind us were from the chefs cooking and plating up food. Not sure how they did it, but these guys somehow squeezed a whole lotta vibe into a teensy-tiny spot! But don’t get your hopes up too high though, there’s no denying it’s a tight spot, seating is minimal, decor is plain, and the actual service is what you’d expect in a place this size – quick and simple. But let’s talk food.
We decided to try a couple of things and share them, and one was the Lutsi Pita Pocket ($11.50) and that was divine peoples! Divine! An incredibly soft pita enveloped fried cauliflower and carmelised onions (my mouth is watering just typing this!), while the fried bits of leek, spring onions, garlic and pine nuts were somehow all smushed in with pickled cabbage, Israeli salad and tahini. It had the perfect balance of bready-pita and juicy stuffing – and chocked full of flavour. A definite must try — and we must try again and again, too!
Normally falafels are overcooked, dry and boring. So what did we make of the Falafel Salad ($14.50)? Perfection, for real – pefection! I’ve been a vegetarian for a very, very long time and I have never ever eaten such soft, perfectly cooked, and tasty falafels as what was in this mixture of Israeli salad, spicy greens, and pickled cabbage. There were three “red” falafels made of chili and red peppers which had a lovely spicy burn, but not too much. The other three were traditional “green” falafels, cooling the palette with their coriander, parsley and mint components. All this sitting atop a slather of hummus and under a drizzle of tahini, fresh parsley and zaatar spice. OMG. Where has this salad been my whole life?
Need we say more? Go, go, go.
Address: 223 High Street, Northcote VIC 3070
Tip! There’s not a lot of space to dine in, but don’t let that deter you. The pitas are an easy ‘eat as you go’ so give one of them a try if you can’t get your bum on a seat!