Frank Camorra, George Calombaris, Greg Malouf – they're all shining examples of classically trained chefs who decided to stop cooking for other people, look back to their heritage and update the food of their grandmothers for a new generation of diners.
After working the pans at the likes of Chin Chin, Hellenic Republic and Red Door Corner Store, Tel Aviv-born chef Roy Sassonkin has just pulled the same move.
Opening recently slap-bang in High Street's hipster heartland, Tahina – for which Sassonkin has teamed up with his life and business partner, Natalie Powell (ex-Barry) – focuses on the vibrant traditional Israeli street food the young chef grew up on back home, as well as dishes inspired by his grandmother.
The well-priced menu is an ode to freshness and simplicity, with Sassonkin churning out crunchy salads and falafel to order – moving with the grace of a gazelle and winning over diners at the open kitchen bench seats with his warm, welcoming charm.
His shakshuka (baked eggs) is a flavour-laden, love-filled winner, done here in the traditional "red" Israeli style with tomatoes. You can also order it green (with avocado, broccoli and zucchini), white (wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, goat's cheese), or vegan (with eggplant).
There are also filled pita pockets and generous mixed platters, as well as healthy smoothies like the "salted caramel" (with almond milk, medjool dates, banana and Himalayan salt), and tahini ice-cream for afters. There will be beer and wine too, once the liquor licence has been approved.
It's barely two weeks in and the crowds are already gathering, plus the space is small, so choose your timing accordingly or be prepared to join the queue.
Open Tue-Sun 11am-late.
223 High Street, Northcote, 9972 1479, facebook.com/pages/tahina