David's Deli food review

Ooooh boy, do I gotta tell everyone about one of my favorite food experiences of all time. A few months ago I went to Tokyo, Japan and I have to say that my standout restaurant wasn’t ramen, sushi, or curry — it was an Israeli spot.

It’s known as David’s Deli. Located in Minato City, this Israeli restaurant was authentic and flavorful to the point where I think about it almost every day. No lie. (If you’re a foodie you’d understand — we never forget the places we love.) It’s a little bit out of the way — both if you are already in Tokyo or if you need to take a flight to get there — but I swear it’s worth it.

When you enter, you are greeted by the friendliest people you’ll ever encounter and the language barrier really won’t be a problem. There’s a counter with classic pastries and then quaint tables with delicate and custom plating.

The menu was extensive and had detailed, accurate photos of each dish. You’ll find a ton of favorites, including corned beef, lamb chop, hummus, schnitzel, pita bread… Seriously, all the staples and more. While classic in presentation and ingredients, I found David’s Deli to have some of the most flavorful bites of any Jewish deli I’ve gone to — and trust me, I have gone to a lot! My mouth is watering just thinking of the first dish.

I started with the kasha varnishkes, a simple Jewish dish that often uses bow-tie shaped egg noodles and buckwheat groats, lokshen, and more. The texture was to die for, with hearty bowties that were perfectly al dente. While it reminded me of the traditional dish I’d often eat at temple, this was elevated beyond what I’d ever image of such a simple dish. The spices are what keep me up at night debating buying a flight to Tokyo. This had to be the most flavorful take on this classic pasta plate I’ve ever had.

The matzo ball chicken soup with noodles was next for me. I cannot go to a Jewish deli and NOT get matzo ball soup. It’s just not happening. The matzo balls themselves were soft with a satisfying flavor. The broth was homey, like something your grandma would make for Passover. In a video I have of the soup you can see the soft, thin noodles in a broth bubbling with flavor and my spoon easily cutting through the matzo ball, darkened with spices.

I then got a meatball stew. This was probably one of the more disappointing parts of my meal, although I’d still be lying if I said it was bad. It was a hearty and rich stew that was heavy on the tomato flavoring. The meatballs had a great texture and flavor — and I’m a sucker for a good meatball. My issue was probably with the vegetables. While fresh and not wilted, they lacked any real transformative properties. There wasn’t any seasoning on them and it felt like they were an afterthought that was just tossed into my stew. Were they from a frozen veggie mix? I’m not really sure, I couldn’t tell ya.

My friend got a lamb entre with fries and vegetables. I’m not a lamb fan but it was juicy and most definitely flavorful, almost like a succulent lamb burger. The fries were crisp but weren’t anything out of this world. The veggies were more or less the same as the ones in the stew, which are pretty “take it or leave it.” But, like the stew, at least they were fresh and had a snap to them instead of being soggy and lifeless.

Review By the Numbers: 

Ambiance — 7/10

There was nothing too special about the decor here but it was pretty crazy to go from a street in Tokyo and then be instantly teleported into a homey deli with a dessert display and vintage-looking seating. The staff were beyond accommodating and very friendly, even letting me take a cringe video of the counter and seating. It was a welcoming and cozy environment that will have you feeling right at home even while you’re thousands of miles away.

Taste — 10/10

This is probably one of the most zesty Israeli places I’ve been to outside of the country itself. The flavors were often rich and the spices were tantalizing. Every dish had its own distinct flavor profile, making each thing I got its own isolated experience. I will never forget some of these mouthfuls and often find myself daydreaming about the intoxicating spices of the kasha varnishkes or the soft, flavorful bites of matzo ball.

Portions & Prices — 3/10

Compared to a casual Jewish deli, this spot was most definitely on the pricier side. You won’t regret it but you will most likely think to yourself, “That was sort of a lot for a matzo ball soup.” When you think about it, this is a big novelty for Tokyo. It was one of the only Israeli or Jewish places I could find in the entire city — and Tokyo is massive and full of food. It gets a bit of a break when you consider how unique it is.

Friend’s meal — 7/10

My friend enjoyed his meal but I don’t think it was as memorable as some of the other things we got. The fries and veggies were not too distinctive, with nothing too special about them. Still, they were prepared well. The lamb was definitely a stand-out, however, thanks to the spices and juiciness. I’d recommend the lamb here if that’s your thing.

Experience — 10/10

Being able to eat such classic food that reminded me of home, childhood, and Israel in a city like Tokyo is something you’ll never forget. It was definitely one of my top food experiences in the city alongside a small, hidden curry place I can’t stop talking about. I’m so glad that I was lucky enough to do something so special and unique — it’s really what makes traveling so important to me. This clash of cultures was one of my favorites of all time.


Still hungry? Check out my favorite deli in the world, Langer’s. Until next time!