Last week a friend introduced me to HaSaluf bakery in Shuk Hatikva (Hatikva market) and a visiting friend from Australia gave me an excuse to return. This Yemenite bakery has been in the same family for “close to a hundred years” and offers a variety of yemenite baked goods including the saluf from which it has taken its name in addition to jachnun, malawach and lachuch amongst other biscuits and cakes.
They also serve shakshuka, a popular Israeli breakfast dish of tomatoes, peppers and eggs, which is normally served in the pan it is cooked in. However the friendly waitress, Sarit, recommended that we try the hamshuka, essentially shakshuka spooned into a bowl of hummus and topped with a healthy serving of olive oil. I must confess to being a bit reticent to try this as I couldn’t really see it working, but was convinced and am delighted that I was. The combination is perfect, the hummus a delightful complement to the tomatoey flavour of the shakshuka. And indeed the shakshuka part of the dish was excellent on its own. I’m not a huge shakshuka fan (I normally opt for the Israeli breakfast option), but this was so flavoursome; really delicious; an absolute pleasure.
There are two options of schug (yeminite spicy sauce) on the table which can be added according to the strength of the diner’s digestive system: green (“slowly slowly”, as described by the chap sitting next to me) or red (“the real thing”). I’m not such a fan of of things which burn my mouth, so opted out, but the choice is there.
We ate our hamshuka with lachuch bread, which I would describe as a large, flat crumpet. It’s very tasty and the slightly chewy texture works well with the hamshuka dish.
We also enjoyed a serving of jachnun, which my friend wanted to try. I am a big fan of this slow-cooked rolled dough dish, and particularly of the very fresh tomato sauce with which it is served. This jachnun was one of the best I have tasted, very soft with a delicately sweet flavour. It is extremely filling though (be warned) and also, I understand, not the healthiest of foodstuffs.
The ambiance in HaSaluf is really special. It is a small space with bar seating. You are very up close and personal with the other diners and many of them are friendly and will engage you in conversation. There seems to be a crowd who come “every Friday” (I think this is a figurative rather than literal term) when they turn up the mizrahi music and punters are encouraged to sing, clap and dance along. Come a little later in the day for the party, but you may struggle to find a seat.
I forgot to take a note of the prices, but our hamshuka, jahnun and two drinks came to around 55NIS. It’s very cheap. And after your meal, you can take a stroll in the rest of the market, where the prices are a fraction of the Carmel market or Tel Aviv stores. Well worth the bus fare!
In summary, excellent food, delightful atmosphere, rock bottom prices. A bit of a shlep from the centre of the city, but well worth it!