El Jamila, 4 Olei Zion Street, Jaffaby Sarit Goffen | 05.06.14
“El Jamila, in a nut shell, is a restaurant in which a gifted chef take the culinary history of Jaffa and transforms it into a gourmet cuisine”. These are the words of Haaretz’ food critic Sagi Cohen. They led me to the heart of the Jaffa flea market to meet chef Salach Khurdi, who give the unique Jaffa cuisine center stage, creating a new and up to date interpretation to the roots of this cuisine out of his own history, memories and personal experiences.
Chef Salach Khurdi’s family arrived in Israel more than seven hundred years ago, with the army of Salach A-Din and settled in the fisherman’s village that would later become the bustling port of Jaffa.
From a very young age, chef Khurdi would spend most of the day in the family home backyard where all the women of the Ajami neighborhood would gather and cook. These women taught chef Khurdi the secrets of the local cuisine – the extensive use of fresh fish, sea food and raw material from the nearby orchards.
The restaurant is situated in an ancient stone building, in the heart of the flea market and was designed to incorporate the old with the new, the traditional with the current. The ceiling of the restaurant was built using old railway tracks and it complements the painted stone tiles – so typical of the Jaffa masonry. The contemporary lighting fixtures and modern tables remind us that this is an accurate and meticulous Chef restaurant.
Al Jamila’s menu respects the special Jaffa cuisine and features fresh fish, plenty of sea food, citrus, fresh herbs and other raw materials.
This visit renewed my long-time love for the flea market and marks the beginning of more visits to great restaurants in it during the next few weeks.
4 Olei Zion Street, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, 03-550 00 42, Facebook.