Real Name: Shvil HaChalav (Milky Way)
Yihye (Kerem Hatemanim)
Sitting in front of Shimshon’s restaurant in the heart of the Kerem HaTeimanim, which translates to Vineyard of the Yemenites, on a Friday morning might just give you the fullest experience of the Kerem you can find. As we savor our bowl chock full of Fatoot, our mouths water with each spoonful. We gobble it up forgetting to even take a photo, so you must use your imagination or check it out for yourself. Fatoot is a traditional Yeminite dish made with Lechuch (a pancake like bread), butter, sauteed onions, sugar, a hint of cinnamon and a touch of sea salt.
We are surrounded by an eclectic mix of pictures from Shimshons travels, knick knacks from all over the world, and album covers that your parents are likely to own. Each table is occupied and kept entertained by one of Shimson’s seven brothers, who takes it upon himself to be the jolly host. The sun shines down the small brick street as a beautiful young couple come vizing through on their scooter to stop in front of Shimshon’s place and yell, “Shimshon HaGadol” (the mighty Shimshon). The buzz in the air before Shabbat brings both an element of constant movement and complete peace. Can’t you just imagine a Beatles soundtrack for this moment. Well thanks to Shimson’s on target playlist of rock and roll, you got it!
Shimshon’s vegetarian only Yeminite restaurant completely represents who he is: a free spirit, with a passion for food, traveling, and classic rock. A meat eater wouldn’t even notice the lack of brawn with all the mouthwatering choices on the menu. By tasting Shimshon’s food it is clear that he cooks with love, and we love this. While you are eating you can watch Shimshon flip this, stir that, spice this, and plate that since he has an open kitchen in the dining room. Periodically he runs out from behind the stove to greet guests, most of whom know him for many years.
Shimshon’s genuine love to cook for his company beams with every smile. We have now moved on to a dish with Bamea (Okra) and rice, the Bamea is in big peices with a lightly sweet tomato based sauce. It is perfectly cooked, firm on the outside and soft on the inside, with a delicate balance of sweet and salty. This magnificent dish sits proudly on a healthy helping of Majadara, a blend of white rice and sauteed lentils and onions. What we absolutely love about this place is that you can taste the freshness of the ingredients in each dish. The doorway to Shimshon’s is adorned with baskets of fresh fruit, and fresh squeezed orange, grapefruit and carrot juice is a great pairing with many of the dishes. At Shimshon’s you can get such a complete, healthy and tasty meal at a great price. Nothing on the menu costs more than 24 shekels and with a selection of soups, stews, rice and some other traditional Yemen dishes, everyone is sure to find something to please their palate.
Look no further for a yummy home cooked meal in the pumping heart of the city, but on a quiet neighborhood street. The Kerem HaTeimanim is a bustling vineyard paused in time, where every corner unveils a new surprise; we have a lot of work to do here in regards to uncovering hidden culinary treasures.