Israeli Food Encino

Street Cafe Wafts Aroma in Exciting New Direction

Aroma Cafe & Bakery now goes by Street Cafe by Aroma. Talented Israeli-born chef Ofir Arbel from Cafe Florentine in Valley Village has taken the menu in an exciting new direction.

Aroma Cafe & Bakery’s patio was a popular option for Israeli and pan-Mediterranean dining in Encino—particularly on weekends and late-night—but the restaurant’s food was never all that notable. Matters changed in May with the arrival of chef Ofir Arbel and Liran Sankesh, who changed the name to Street Cafe by Aroma. The business partners also run Cafe Florentine in Valley Village and now have an even bigger forum for their flavorful, globally inspired Kosher cuisine.

Their nine-page menu features dozens of dishes organized into categories like Breakfasts, Jerusalem Bagel Toast and From The Taboon, referring to a domed oven (typically clay) that’s used for traditional baking in the Middle East.

Start with hummus, which comes with fluffy, house-baked pita and toppings like falafel, the slow-cooked tomato and egg stew called shakshuka, or—most unique—ahi tuna shawarma. For that last preparation, juicy seared fish chunks are marinated with cumin, paprika and turmeric and sautéed with onions and parsley before resting in a pool of creamy hummus.

Street Specials yield atypical fusion dishes. For instance, baked salmon tops creamy harissa risotto, and Jerusalem mix combines mushrooms, onions and seitan (vegan wheat gluten strips) instead of the standard chicken thigh, gizzard and heart stir-fry.

Dessert is always in question given the restaurant’s huge portions, but a display case in the dining room features supple apple or poppy seed strudel, cast-iron skillets of kanafe, fruit tarts and individual caramel cheesecakes.

Ofir notes that the revamp is part of an effort to rally the kosher community that “is not about only food.” The Israeli-born chef values his relationships with Jewish staffers, suppliers and of course Street Cafe by Aroma’s customers.

18047 Ventura Blvd., Encino, 818-757-0477

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