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Where to eat in Tel Aviv, Israel: Chef Michael Rantissi

TIME : 2-26 17:15:06

After training in Paris and New York, Israeli-born Michael Rantissi arrived in Australia in 2005 and joined The Bathers' Pavilion as sous chef. In 2011 he opened Kepos Street Kitchen in Alexandria and recently opened Kepos & Co. He and partner Kristy Frawley​ have released their first cookbook, Falafel for Breakfast (see murdochbooks.com.au).

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TABLE IN TEL AVIV?

The traditional restaurants serve shared meals where there is a lot of choice: vibrant salads in the centre, grilled meats and fish on the table and your plate can be refilled. It feels festive and the servings are plentiful. When visiting Tel Aviv I like to dine at Benny Hadayag​, a seafood grill on the beach (see bennyhadayag.co.il).

THE LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY OF THE PAST YEAR?

I have recently started using carob molasses for its sweet, chocolatey and tart flavour. It works so well with chargrilled dishes, as it gives it a beautiful caramelised flavour and colour. I really like the produce market in Tel Aviv, Shuk HaCarmel​, for its beautiful local foods and its vibrant colours, particularly in the spring. See shuktlv.co.il/en/category/carmel-market.

WHAT IS TEL AVIV'S BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET?

It would definitely have to be the hummus served in a tiny little place called Abu-Hasan (Ali-Karavan) in Jaffa. There is always a queue, but I guarantee it will be worth the wait. The staff scream at you while taking your order, which is always interesting. They have three different varieties of hummus, a fresh baked pita bread and don't dare ask for anything else. My tip is to get there early, as they close for the day once the hummus has finished. Hummus is important to me, too, in my restaurants. It has to be perfect. (No website, but there are several locations including 1 Dolphin Street.)

PLACE TO GO ON A DAY OFF?

When I lived in Tel Aviv, on a rare day off I loved to go to the beach as they are so beautiful and a great place to relax. The best thing is to rent a chair on the beach and have a beer. Amazingly, you can drink beer in a public place in Tel Aviv.

FAVOURITE INDULGENCE IN TEL AVIV?

The nightlife is amazing. It is a 24-hour city that never goes to sleep; the New York of the Middle East. There are two main districts – the new Tel Aviv Port and Sarona. They have some great restaurants, clubs and bars.

BEST TIME TO VISIT TEL AVIV, AND WHY?

April and May, because it is not too hot and humid, but the temperature is beautifully warm.

WHAT SHOULD A VISITOR AVOID, FOOD-WISE, IN TEL AVIV?

Avoid the touristic​ restaurants. It is a bit like Sydney, where the best eating places are not in the main tourist areas, and you need to venture out a bit.