The vietnam side of the coin

The first time we ate at "Ying Yang", over ten years ago, it set inside an eclectic building in Rotshild St; which seemed as it was dropped with the restaurant itself directly from some Chinese Canton straight to the heart of Tel Aviv.

We were a young couple, celebrating a birthday or an anniversary in an unordinary meal from any aspect, and we were looking for excitements. We certainly got them… everything seemed authentic and enthusiastic in the reddish overload oriental accessories restaurant, especially the waiters, who spoke Hebrew or English (does it really matter?) in such a heavy accent, that for a moment we honestly thought we're in china and of course we replied in a Chinese accent, as necessary.
Three things happened to us that night: as all Israelis, we became Aharoni's fans. We realized that Chinese food and us is a great match and a big love, and the most dramatic thing which happened that night was probably the obsession we developed to the spicy saccuan beef with eggplant dish of Ying Yang.

Through the years, we ordered it home at lat 30 times… we kept ordering it in the few times we visited Ying Yang and the other Chinese restaurant here and abroad, for the comparison, of course. So, when we went out last week to eat in the new Ying Yang, which is now placed in a multi-story building in Ha'arba'a St., it was obvious what we were going to it…
Certain what the night is about to look like, we set on one of the tables next to the platform in the entrance of the room. From there, we could overlook on the space of Yin Yang which this time, was designed in a "Chinese - kitsch – free" elegancy. Don, Aharoni's partner, approached the table and invited us to try a Vietnamese meal. Our eyes crossed and we smiled, reminiscing the only Vietnamese meal we ever ate in the small restaurant in Manhattan, which set inside an Asian bordello. We hesitated for a second, only to fold the saccuan beef with eggplant fantasy, and answered together "yes".

Our intuition turned out right. Right after he made sure we have no Kosher or health limitations, Don build us a meal which opened with a green salad of lettuce, basil, Arabic coriander and other greens and went on with a series of dishes which excitant our palates like nothing has done for a long time… for example the little Vietnamese pancakes made of rice flour with lentil and green onion in pineapple sauce (25 shekels), the cold roll filled with shrimps, thin rice noodles and fresh spice – leaves (30 shekels) or the spicy chicken salad with mint and cabbage (35 shekels). Soon enough we realized that we are expecting an affair with the Vietnamese cuisine as well, since it's just the way we like it: spicy, interesting, sophisticated and exciting!

Although we were full, the main dishes made it to our hearts (and stomachs!). we licked the caramel with black pepper and fresh pineapple corvina (85 shekels) until the plate sparkled. We ate all we could from the shrimp kabab which was served on a sugar cane leave (95 shekels). It was great but we passed our capacity line long time ago.

The fun thing about the Vietnamese cuisine is that it's possible (or should I say recommended) to assemble the meal from first appetizers only, to order a bug variety with a drink and celebrate yourself to insanity. It does not include Soy or monosodium and it has a big variety of cold and refreshing dishes, who fit the Israeli weather so well.
Only before we left we remembered the Chinese eggplant dish. A pick in the menu assured us it's still served in Ying Yang, along with the utmost dishes of the old restaurant.
We might order it next time we visit Ying Yang, and we might have moved on already…

Yin-yang, chef Israel Aharoni,
17 Haarbaa st., milenium building, Tel-Aviv.