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Israeli Food Big in Japan (Alright!)

Hummus joints and kosher food stands become popular with locals

Tal Trachtman Alroy
March 10, 2015
(AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli food has been gaining popularity around the world with Shakshuka trucks hitting the streets of New York City and hip Israeli restaurants opening in London. Now the trend is getting big in Japan. In the last few years, at least eight restaurants and hummus joints have popped up in different Japanese cities, according to JTA.

In January, the Chabad House in Tokyo opened Chana’s Place—the only kosher-certified restaurant in the capital—serving hummus, shakshuka, matbucha and other popular Israeli dishes. Ta-im, a 16-seat Israeli restaurant, is another spot that serves hummus and Middle Eastern staples.

JTA spoke with Hidehiko Egata, who works in finance and has frequented Ta-im since it first opened. “I first ate hummus a few years ago on the other side of town,” Egata said. “I found that it was more healthy than my usual dinners then. It was filling, but it didn’t make me tired the way a noodle dish would. When this place opened, it became my regular spot.”

Rabbi Binyomin Edery, a Tokyo-based Chabad rabbi who supervises kosher food stand King Falafel, added that Israeli and Arab food has an advantage over other foreign cuisines in health-conscious Japan because of its reliance on fresh vegetables. Hummus in particular has taken off recently, which Edery credits to locals’ familiarity with bean paste-based foods.

Get your pitas ready.

Tal Trachtman Alroy is an intern at Tablet.