The standard of food in Japanese restuarants is exceptionally high, but sometimes you want a break from the raw fish, hotpots and ramen and Shamaim in Ekoda provides just that, with authentic Israeli food in a comfortable setting.
In a change from the boxed in booths of izakayas, Shamaim has an open layout with high ceilings giving it a spacious and ‘airy’ feeling.
There are various dining options with shish-kebab (lamb or chicken) and schnitzel sets for the ‘meat-eaters’ or falafel, shakshuka or hummus sets for the vegetarians. The sets come served with salad, harissa, potatoes, a choice of bread, rice and hummus or tahini as well as your main dish with a choice of a small or large portion. The small veggie courses are just over 1,000 yen with large sizes around 1,500 yen whilst one kebab skewer in the meat course will set you back around 1,400 yen with two skewers priced at 1,900 yen.
If you’re feeling particularly hungry then opt for the ‘all you can eat’ (tabehodai) course which is priced at a very reasonable 2,400 yen and will allow you to sample everything Shamaim has to offer. We opted for a mixed kebab set with hummus, pita bread, a spicy salad and rice. Every dish gave the impression the ingredients had been carefully sourced to give an authentic taste and the chicken shishlik was particularly good.
As for drinks, award-winning Israeli beer Maccabi is recommended. It’s a little pricey at 760 yen a bottle but well worth sampling for its fresh taste and is a nice change from the standard nama (draft) Japanese beers with an unduly large artificial head on top. And after all, how many opportunities do you get to sample award-winning Israeli beer in Tokyo? As an alcohol-free alternative, the mint tea compliments the middle eastern food well.
Altogether a decent meal for two with drinks will cost around 4000 yen. The restaurant is located a few minutes walk from Ekoda station on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line (10mins from Ikebukuro) and takes around 5 minutes to walk from Shin-Ekota station on the Toei-Oedo line (which is around 20 mins from Shinjuku).