Rokach Yam, Booth 1 in Jaffa Port Market, Jaffa

by Sarit Goffen | 22.07.13

Every story has a beginning and I would like to share mine with you.

Up until two years ago, I had an active career in the insurance and finance world, serving in various senior management positions within the last decade. During all these years, however, there was a disconnect between what I loved to do and my professional practice. And although I quickly rose to the top, I always carried a sense of missed opportunity inside.

Finally, at the age of 40, (some might call it a midlife crisis, I choose to think of it as personal commitment issue), I realized that my career was not what I had dreamt of doing for a living. I went back in time, to the moment before I attended university (because it was the right and proper thing to do), and chose to pursue what had always been a hobby of mine – photography.

I wanted to write my first post within a supportive environment, and who better to give me that support than Chef Eyal Lavi, whom I’ve known for over 20 years and whose food I have loved ever since my waitressing days as an undergraduate. Eyal Lavi is the Chef and owner of three restaurants in Tel Aviv, the oldest being “Rokach 73,” the second one is “Rokach Yam” and the newest restaurant is “Rokach Shuk.” I called Eyal and told him that I was going to start covering various aspects of the culinary scene in Tel-Aviv, including the people involved within the industry. Eyal, being the lovely man that he is, asked me flat out, “When and where would you like to shoot?”

My first post was to be published during the summer, and I chose to shoot at “Rokach Yam” located in the Jaffa harbor. The blend of the Jaffa harbor mixed with the indoor fishermen’s market and the fresh products being brought in by local fishermen make for a winning combination during the hot days of summer. The restaurant is located at the entrance of the market and diners can choose to either relax at the bar overlooking the open kitchen where they can watch the cooks, or they can opt to sit outside and watch the sea while enjoying the breeze.

Based on Chef Lavi’s specialty and the closeness of the harbor, Rokach Yam’s menu is all about fish and sea food. Inspired by Jaffa Cuisine, the menu combines near east and Arabic elements alongside influences from Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Greece and the south of France. The plating is also influenced by the Mediterranean serving style known as tapas, which is comprised of small dishes served quickly at the bar, creating a colorful meal full of flavors. The menu is divided according to the styles of each dish, which includes sample dishes, salads, hot and cold dishes, iron and paella pans, fried cones (also served as takeaway) and desserts.

Among the variety of tasty plates, one can also find spicy olives, hot peppers or toasted focaccia; Greek Fatush salad with black olives or parmesan Frito Misto with balsamic vinaigrette; Sea fish Carpaccio with cucumber and crème fraiche, Cuba – Nyah with garlic aioli and beetroot vinaigrette; Locus kebab with tomatoes, tahini and pickled lemon, seared octopus with Ftatas Braws and smoked paprika. I chose to have the Carpaccio Corvina, freshly prepared with fish that had been dreamily filleted and prepared by Eyal. Next, I ordered a wonderful seafood paella, every mouthful reminded me of Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona. For dessert, Eyal served his special interpretation of Malabi, a tasty treat decorated with sugared orange peels and pistachios. I must say, this was certainly a dish fit for royalty!

Eyal informed me that opening Rokach Yam offered somewhat of a closure, stating that, “One of the earliest stations in my career was at the Jaffa harbor, and I’ve always dreamed of coming back here as part of a small vending stall that serves fish and seafood based on the daily catch. A place that offers an intimate experience, and allows for an unmediated dialogue with the diners. And although we are not really a small vending stall, for me this is an old dream come true.”

The rich menu featured at Rokach Yam is complemented by a selection of cocktails and attractively priced alcohol. For those of you looking for a great summer spot to dine, Rokach Yam offers a bubbly, light and tasty experience!

Rokach Yam, Booth 1, Jaffa Port Market, Sun – closed, Mon – Wed – 10:00 – 22:00, Thur 10:00 – 23:00, Fri – Sat – 09:00 – 23:00, website


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