“A hyped up version of the ubiquitous sweet chili, fresh herbs and a few other secret ingredients are added to transform the commonplace into a surprisingly fresh and refined dipping sauce…” Rachel Wagner enjoys a pan Asian extravaganza at laid back Tangerine overlooking the sea in north Tel Aviv.

What the city of Tel Aviv lacks in country specific Asian restaurants (i.e. Is anyone else dying for some proper Vietnamese?), it more than makes up for in quick, reasonably priced and often tasty Asian style eateries. Tangerine, in the north Tel Aviv Mandarin hotel, is the latest to join this group, and we were curious to take a peek at their wok.

Idan and I rolled up to Tangerine just as the sun was setting over the breezy Mediterranean. The restaurants offers a small interior, with about 4 tables and a small bar, and an expansive patio, perfect for summer al fresco dining.

As it was an unseasonably cool May evening, we started off with a traditional small pot of green tea. Perusing the extensive yet compactly laid out 3-page menu (I for one am getting a little tired of paging through menu novellas), the avocado spring roll was first to jump off the page. We also added the Pop Shrimp, tempura battered shrimp pieces dressed in a creamy yuzo sauce, to our starter order.

Ripe avocado, fresh coriander, and a crisp fried spring roll wrapper were accompanied by the Tangerine house sauce. A hyped up version of the ubiquitous sweet chili sauce, Tangerine adds fresh herbs and a few other secret ingredients to transform the commonplace into something surprisingly fresh and refined. The spring roll itself was also a well-received shocker, having been quickly flash fried to keep the creamy avocado and flavourful coriander barely warm. Idan and I both went back for seconds. The Pop Shrimp, a very generously sized dish, was also excellent; not overly battered or greasy and lightly tossed in a slightly tangy and not too creamy sauce. Against better judgment, our plates of fried appetizers were empty in time for the next course.

We weren’t sure which direction to head in when it came to mains. On one hand, Tangerine has tempting grill and wok sections with a variety of dishes from sirloin yakitori to green curry noodles. There were also some appealing salads, tempting us to make up for our fried appetizer indiscretions. But in the in end, the varied sushi list won out, with the Tangerine take on a Dragon Roll and the Tangerine Special roll making their way to our table.

The Tangerine Special arrived first, and with a bang. After a bit of a double take (I don’t think either of us had ever seen such large futomaki), we set our chopsticks down and dug in fingers first to this attractive everything-but-the-kitchen-sink roll. Containing shrimp, asparagus, salmon tempura, avocado, tamago and daikon wrapped in crisp tempura inari, the Tangerine had something for everyone. I especially like the sweet inari wrapper. The Dragon Roll, a sushi bar classic usually containing some variation on tempura shrimp and avocado, started out true to form with the shrimp and avocado, but then headed off in its own direction with cucumber, campio and a sweet potato wrapping, served hot.

Not in a hurry to leave the breezy relaxing patio, we sipped our tea to make room for dessert – a lovely layered creamy passion fruit cake with white chocolate. Simultaneously sweet and tart, the relatively light and fruity cake capped off the meal nicely.

For the lunchtime crowd, Tangerine also offers an excellent business lunch menu, including a starter, a second dish, a main dish and a drink for NIS 53. Delivery service available in north Tel Aviv and bordering Hasharon region.

Mandarin Hotel, 21 Yunizman St., Tel Aviv
Tel: 03-6990040