People here have been talking about Hasiba, the new kosher restaurant on Pico, near La Cienega, from the Lodge Bread people, so I decided to give it a try.
Shakshuka is one of my favorite things in the world, so I ordered that, together with a small side Israeli salad.
I did not like the shakshuka at all. It was not properly spiced and the tomato sauce had a burnt off-putting taste. They are definitely not using high quality ingredients to make that shakshuka. The Israeli salad was some chopped up cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots. There was a sprinkling of fresh herbs, which was nice, but the olive oil in which the salad was dressed was not good quality so the dish was neither tasty nor interesting. The shakshuka came with a piece of pita. The pita has been gathering both yays and nays here. I’m in the nay category. To me, it tasted like a big, bland, squishy, spongy nothing (kind of like Wonder Bread). A total waste of carbs.
Although I knew that Hasiba was a quick casual concept, the other thing I did not appreciate about the place before going was that there is but a single high communal table with very uncomfortable cheap stools. Between the uncomfortable seating and the music blasting, not a great atmosphere to dine in, and shakshuka is definitely not a take out food.
With tip and a small bottle of Perrier, my lunch was $27. At that high price point, given the unpleasant atmosphere and the fact that I do not believe they are using quality ingredients, I personally would not return to try the other menu items.
Proves again and again how unreliable I find Eater to be. Here is what Eater had to say about Hasiba: “The bill of fare has two shakshuka, a star dish that remains on the menu at Lodge Bread.” I was expecting the same “star” shakshuka purportedly found at Lodge. In no universe is this star shakshuka.
maccrogenoff do you think the sugar in the Ottolenghi recipe is necessary? There was something so off about the Hasiba shakshuka that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. One the one hand, it tasted like there was added sugar, but on the other hand, there was an burnt off-putting taste to the tomato sauce.
As to adding sugar to savory dishes, in general, I’m not a fan.
I think the recipe is perfect and perfectly balanced. Every time I’ve made a modification I have not liked it as well as when I follow the recipe. Note that the sugar is dark muscavodo sugar which is less sweet and more bitter than granulated white sugar.
If you prefer a recipe with no sugar here’s a link to Ottolenghi’s recipe in Jerusalem. I made the one from Plenty because my husband isn’t fond of spicy food.
Thank you @maccrogenoff - I think I will be happier with the Jerusalem recipe as I adore spicy food, although one teaspoon of harissa does not seem very spicy to me. Would have never thought to add labneh to shakshuka – will have to give that a try.
Sadly, another mediocre shakshuka - this time at Toast Cafe on Ventura in Sherman Oaks – another restaurant that Eater raved about (cementing in my mind that Eater is an extremely unreliable source of restaurant information).
Shakshuka is not that hard to make and is mostly a question of using quality ingredients. When asked, the waiter at Toast admitted that they were using tomato paste as a base, not fresh tomatoes, but I ordered it anyway because nothing else on the menu appealed. My dining companion had falafel, which were clearly not freshly made and which were among the worst falafel I have ever had. (I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but Eater just sucks).
I will have to give the shakshuka at Republique a try as I have to assume that Republique is using quality ingredients. I have had good shakshuka at Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud in NYC.
Speaking of quality ingredients and the Ottolenghi recipe that calls for labneh, yesterday I picked up some Saint Benoit plain yogurt, which I hadn’t had for awhile. Not quite labneh, but very thick, and I swear one of the best things I have eaten this year, right up there with my recent meals at Del Posto and Momofuku Ko in NYC. Sometimes it is all about the ingredients and I am definitely going to top my next homemade Shakshuka with some Saint Benoit yogurt.
No offense meant here, but ordering shakshuka at Toast is akin to getting the enchiladas at Lenny’s: you’re bound to be disappointed. I do applaud the fact that you even tried it!
I agree Eater isn’t always well-versed enough with a given dish to claim authority. This seems to be the case.
The vast majority of places slinging shakshuka around town will be using canned tomatoes or purée. I wouldn’t expect much fresh tomatoes. I mean, it’s shakshuka. This is the definition of a humble dish.
If you’re up for something a little adventurous, check out Sqirl’s rendition with blackeyed peas. You’ll know the ingredients are top-notch at the very least.
@frommtron, both Eater and the L.A. Weekly sold Toast as the great Israeli Yeminite find – I thought they could handle Shakshuka. Maybe the Malawach is good at Toast, but I would never set foot in there again.