Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Quiet Anniversary at Awafi Kosher Restaurant

The two sweethearts celebrated their anniversary over a quiet and simple meal at Awafi Kosher Restaurant, reminiscing about their post wedding celebratory trip to Jordan and Israel years ago.

Awafi is perhaps the only true kosher restaurant on the island under the supervision of a rabbi and is glatt kosher. The lions looked up the meaning of the term as they do not profess to be experts in the field. For meat to be kosher, it must come from a kosher animal (i.e. only those that chew their cud, etc) and be slaughtered in a kosher way. The term glatt kosher often implies that a product is processed under a stricter standard of kashrut (Jewish dietary law). Online sources define glatt kosher as meat from animals with smooth or defect-free lungs; the word glatt means smooth in Yiddish. This level of attention is admirable as smooth lungs free from any adhesions usually suggest that the animal was healthy and had no prior exposure to harm or injury.

Just like local Singaporeans' maniac love for food, food is also very much an integral part of the Jewish community life as most of their religious holidays revolve around traditional meals and special dishes.

The lions head for a special dinner date at Awafi Kosher Restaurant
nestled in the premises of the Jacob Ballas Centre that is situated
beside East Asia's oldest synagogue - the Maghain Aboth Synagogue.
Opened in 2007, the Jacob Ballas Centre is named after the late
Jacob Ballas O.B.M, a philanthropist and successful stockbroker. 
Clearing the tight but necessary security that includes
identification checks.
Quiet and serene wait at the lobby for the lift to bring
them up to the sixth floor.
Awafi Restaurant offers kosher food in a variety of ethnic flavours
like Indian, Middle Eastern, Western and Chinese. It is easy to forget
that there is no such thing as "Jewish food" since the Jewish diaspora
settled all over the globe for many centuries.  The lions were served by
a friendly and polite bunch of Indian service and kitchen staff.
No boisterous Jewish mama here dishing out food. A little disappointing
as the chef wasn't Jewish but Jewish overseers called the Mashgiach
are said to be at hand to turn on the stove and oven, and inspect the
Bah! Our advice: choose the right day and season for your
visit! Thursday sees a limited menu as it's the day before
Shabbat (day of rest). We hear that they are also closed
during the Passover period. The lions decided to share
a main course and have an appetiser each.
Kosher ingredients are generally more expensive because
they go through the necessary certification process. So let's
check out the prices here.
Average restaurant damage to the wallet with no svc charge
& gst; but the food served here is decidedly more down-to-earth,
making it seem pricey.
Wah! Sichuan chicken served alongside Tunisian Sandwich;
an eclectic mix of dishes on the menu.
Local favourites are not forgotten here!
The unofficial national snack of Israel - the Falafel.
You can choose to make a falafel pita here or eat the items
separately. For a falafel pita, spread a layer of hummus in the
pocket of the pita before adding the crispy falafel, cucumbers
and tomatoes. For the average local palate, tucking into this
might be a little hardcore here as there is no "marinate" or
accompanying sauce. The lioness declared her stomach
scrubbed clean after this fibrous start. Might be too "healthy"
for some.
The main of Chicken Schnitzel was well breaded and fried.
It was an interesting experience tucking into the kosher chicken
as it tasted and seemed a little different from the usual meat.
Very "clean-tasting", quipped the lion. The lioness thought
it rather bland on her Chinese palate. 
Jews have contributed significantly to the city island.
The most famous personality was, of course, David S. Marshall,
a Jew of Iraqi origin, who became the first chief minister of
the Republic in 1955.

Overall, it was an interesting dining experience; the lions feel very blessed to have such open access to a variety of cuisines from around the world on this teeny weeny island. Being able to partake of food from diverse cultures is such a privilege as it expands our world and encourage a culture of respect for traditions that are remarkably different from ours. For a couple so used to tucking into practically anything under the sun (so typically Chinese!), it is humbling to see how expat and minority communities here seek to faithfully adhere to their unique way of life and strict dietary traditions. And for a city whose landscape is fast changing all the time, and whose local traditions are constantly under threat from the tide of modernity (even more so now!), there is something to be gleaned here about preserving things that are close to the heart.

P.S. For coffee aficionados, you might like to check out the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Plaza By The Park) just around the corner. This joint is special; food served here is completely kosher, even the cakes!

Awafi Kosher Restaurant
24 Waterloo Street
6th Floor Jacob Ballas Centre
Singapore 187950

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