★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
189 Agrippas Street, Jerusalem
Sunday-Thursday (11:00 – 23:00)
Friday (11:00 – an hour before Shabbat)
I’ll start by saying that Ima (which means “Mom” in Hebrew) was initially our back-up dinner plan. Doug’s parents were visiting and we had one day to spend in Jerusalem. We heard Machneyuda had great food and provided a unique experience to boot, so I made a reservation there. Unfortunately, our reservation was for 11pm. Even when we thought that we would be going to the Night Spectacular Show at the King David Tower, we were going to have a few hours to kill in the evening. But when that was canceled due to inclement weather, we knew we needed to eat dinner earlier. So we headed over to Ima, an Kurdish restaurant that everyone recommended when they heard we were Jerusalem-bound. While we didn’t get the “experience” that Machneyuda supposedly offers, I think I speak for everyone when I say we were happy with our decision to eat at Ima instead.
We were immediately seated upon entering the restaurant. While the restaurant seemed quite large, it didn’t actually feel that way. It was split into several rooms with just a few tables in each, creating an intimate environment without feeling crowded. The stone walls of the restaurant radiated a sense of comfort. Noise didn’t carry much, contributing to the feeling that we were having a small, quiet meal at home. Just sitting there, we sensed that the food would be warm, filling, and homey.
With a variety of kubehs to choose from, none of which sounded like those I grew up eating, we were a little overwhelmed. The waitress patiently described each one and recommended some of her favorite dishes.
We ended up with kubeh nabulsiya to start. It had a thin shell of fried, crispy bulgur-wheat, which held incredibly tender, soft, and juicy ground meat and whole pine nuts. It was warm, well seasoned, and beautifully formed. They were similar to the long, fried kubeh’s my grandmother makes—my favorite kind, in fact. While my grandmother’s kubeh is still undoubtedly the best, Ima’s was delicious in its own right.
I stuck with kubeh for my main dish, ordering the kubeh matafonia soup. This was also similar to a type of kubeh I grew up eating, but slightly different. The farina-based shell was thinner than my ideal (my ideal: thick! It’s untraditional, though, so take that with a grain of salt), but the kubeh itself had the perfect consistency—it was easy to cut into and had perfectly cooked meat inside. It was a little salty, but the overall taste was nonetheless delicious. The kubeh itself was in a rich tomato sauce with zucchini and squash. It contributed a nice, sharp flavor that really brought out the depth of the meat and parsley filling.
More adventurous than I was, Doug ordered the maklouba, a dish with chicken, rice, squash, and carrots. The meal was definitely something worth eating in winter—it had a warm feel to it that could be attributed to the subtle cinnamon taste present in every bite. The chicken, meanwhile, was moist and tender, blending right in with the cooked vegetables.
Doug’s mom, meanwhile, ordered the beef shoulder stew, a daily special. It was reportedly delicious, with perfectly cooked beef chunks.
To top off the wonderful food? Fries, of course. Doug’s dad’s meal came with a side of fries, which I luckily got to try. They were amazing—crisped wonderfully but still meaty with potato.
By the end of the meal, we were all pleasantly stuffed from the food, tired from the day’s touring, and absolutely prepared to go back to Tel Aviv.