Chinese food. These two words conjure up images of sweet and sour pork, crispy duck and fried bananas. Typical Chinese kitchen, western style. However, there is an entirely different and exciting culinary meaning to them. Authentic - real authentic - Chinese food is nothing like that. Most of us are ignorant of this. Few of us have taken the time to find where this wonderful cuisine is served. So when I found myself in front of Hayam Hasini (literally, the ''Chinese Sea'') I didn’t know what a treat I was in for. Don’t get me wrong, you can find stereotypical Chinese food here, but what they have to offer is so much more.
We arrived at 19:00 and the restaurant was packed. A private party was being held in the main dining hall. We were shown into the private room (which is equipped for business meetings with a computer, projector and screen) where we let the owner’s mother guide us through our culinary journey into the wonders of the Cantonese cuisine. We were served a large bowl of a special soup – chunks of ground beef, cubes of tofu and egg whites were cooked in a refreshing broth. The perfect start to what was to turn out to be a perfect meal.
Two types of dim-sum composed our appetizer. The first - shrimp and bamboo in a rice wrapper (Ha-Gau) was light and crispy. The Sho Mai, ground pork and black mushrooms, provided the perfect second dish – juicy and full of flavor. Buk Choy, the traditional steamed Chinese cabbage offered a refreshing break before the main courses.
D, my companion for the evening, does not like shrimp. I don’t know if it is the taste or the texture. Maybe it’s a bit of both. However, I managed to convince her to try the dish that was placed in front of us – shrimp in what I can only guess to be an oyster sauce accompanied by large, colorful strips of fresh green, red pepper and mushrooms lightly saut?ed to retain their crispiness. Much to my surprise, and to D’s, she loved the dish and couldn’t get enough of it! We were also served a soft and succulent steamed bass and chicken in sweet-and-sour sauce. Both dishes were delicious and bursting with tastes and flavors. For dessert, a strange, but wonderfully delicious plate of fried ice cream hit the spot.
The atmosphere is festive and the prices are very reasonable. Hayam Hasini is popular among the Asian population in Israel and it is well worth going out of your way to eat here. But do yourself a favor and order from their ''authentic Chinese'' section of the menu. You won’t regret it.
3 Shankar St, Tel Aviv