Shakuf is one of the latest restaurants to appear on the Israeli dining scene and it stands out above the others by its unusual combination of ingredients, the surprising way in which the food is served, and the stylish, industrial chic interiors of the restaurant in a very quiet neighborhood in Jaffa, nowhere near the Jaffa port where most of the other trendy restaurants are located. The crowd is young and fashionable, but not snobbish. Service is impeccable.
The prix fixe menu changes daily and has two options: a tasting menu and a chef’s menu (185 NIS and 235 NIS, respectively, which is $50 and $65). They have a wine list that includes several wonderful Israeli wines. I love the unusual combinations of meat, fish and vegetables, the unconventional ways in which they are served (for example, one dish came in small wooden containers that resemble shallow flower boxes), and the novel twists on traditional Mediterranean dishes like shakshuka. The portions are small so you won’t feel uncomfortably stuffed at the end of the evening. The food reminds me of Noma (the Copenhagen restaurant that is considered right now to be the best restaurant in the world). Not surprising, given that Eldad Shem-Tov (the founder and chef of Shakuf) completed an apprenticeship at Noma. He has previously worked at Alain Ducasse, Per Se and dw50 in Manhattan.
The restaurant is located in a large cavernous space with very high ceilings. Diners sit on a bar that surrounds and faces the open kitchen, allowing them to see how the food is cooked and how it is artfully arranged on plates. There are a few tables in distant corners for those who don’t want to sit around the bar, but they are definitely not the best places to sit as they are far away from the action.
Because they have room for only 40 guests, you have to reserve in advance. The restaurant may be a bit difficult to find at night. All you will see is a steel door on a run down building in a dark quiet neighborhood. But it is absolutely worth visiting if you are in Tel Aviv.