A friend of mine once said what she loved about Israeli shops was that “they have a lot of stuff in little tiny spaces”. Space is still an expensive commodity in the major cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
In the restaurant world a variation of the formula of small=big applies in that Israeli’s seem to feel almost invited to cram into tiny restaurants, especially if there are already a number of people there.
I love the tiny little places that succeed on great food and intimate surroundings, like being in a culinary womb. Many of the nation’s most successful coffee bar franchises started as tiny, less than 70 meter spaces, for instance Aroma which was birthed on a tiny corner of Hillel and Rabbi Akiva and Cafe Jo in Tel Aviv.
But in this post I want to honor my favorite of most amazing tiny space restaurants, 5 of May, on Etz Chaim St. in shuk Mahaneh Yehuda. The true honor here is that the kitchen is so tiny any foodie would bemoan their culinary fate having to try to produce something in it. It consists of a tiny space possibly just over a meter wide with oven, hotplate, sink and cutting area.
Nevertheless not only does 5 b’Mai deliver the cozy intimate atmosphere that probably seats about 14 inside and out, but amazing food.
My favorite dish is the breakfast Sabiche. Sabiche is a fried eggplant dish with vegetables and tahinia usually offered in a pita. 5 b’Mai’s breakfast Sabiche is a wonderful salad base with tahina dressing which includes a 3.5 minute egg, cubes of fried eggplant and underneath pickled lemon rind for acidity. Breakfasts include two beverages, a hot beverage and freshly squeezed choice of citrus juice.
Every menu item I’ve had or asked to be created for me has been excellent. THey also offer brioche as part of their morning pastry continental breakfast offerings.
Although I have only been there midday (breakfast is served longer than usual) I have heard from one barman that they are only closed for about four hours each day, in the wee morning.