When you say ‘Israel’ and
‘fast food’ most people instinctively think of falafel.
However, there is nothing inherently Israeli about fried
chickpea balls. Falafel can be found throughout the
In recent years a new contender to what has often
been considered the national fast food, has become
popular, it is Sabich. This dish is also not uniquely
Israeli, but rather a traditional dish eaten by Iraqi
Jews in the morning, on Shabbat. What exactly is Sabich?
It is hummus, fried eggplant, steamed potatoes,
(browned) hard-boiled egg, salad and Amba (a mango
pickle), all tucked neatly into a pita.
Ramat Gan is known for having many residents of Iraqi
decent and for a long time Sabich was barely known
beyond these confines. That however, has changed. Today,
many falafel stands offer Sabich and some kiosks focus
specifically on this dish. While you can readily find
Sabich, if you want to sample the real thing, visit
David “Dudi” Sasson, a second-generation Sabich maker at
his kiosk, at 129 Ha’Roeh Street in Ramat Gan.
Sasson’s father, Ya’acov Sasson and his partner Zvika
Chalavi first started making Sabich at a small kiosk in
Ramat Gan’s Uziel Street, in 1958. They later, moved to
a new location, also in Ramat Gan.
According to Sasson, the dish that was traditionally
eaten in Iraq does not have a formal name. When Sasson’s
father and his partner established their original kiosk
they had to come up with a name for this traditional
dish. They decided to simply use one of their own names.
That’s how Chalavi’s first name, which is Zvika in
Hebrew (and Sabich in Iraqi), became the local name for
the dish. Some have asserted that Sabich is actually
called Bab Jan in Iraqi, but according to Sasson,
Babijan is simply the Iraqi word for eggplant.
When I ordered my Sabich without the hard-boiled egg,
Sasson was quick to point out that it is exactly the
marriage of flavors between hummus and the hard-boiled
egg that make the dish unique.
In addition to Sabich, Sasson serves Sambusak, an
Iraqi version of the classic Indian fritter that is made
of an oil-based dough, stuffed with ground chickpeas,
fried onions and spices. He notes that the Iraqi version
is not as spicy as the Indian version. The Sambusak is
something that could easily become addicting. Rounding
out the offering is a large selection of syrups, used to
make old-fashioned ‘gazoz’ or flavored soda.
Miznon Sabich is located at 129 Ha’Roeh Street, Ramat
Gan, between Yehuda Ha’Nassi and Hibbat Zion streets.
The kiosk does not have kosher certification,
however, no meat is served.
Prices: Sabich, 11/NIS, Sambusak, 6 NIS
Hours: Sunday- Thursday 9:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, 9:00
Suggested Activity: Visit the Yechiel Nahari
Museum of Far Eastern Art and the Maria and Mikhail
Zetlin Museum of Russian Art, just up the hill from the
I originally came to the Maria and Mikhail Zetlin
Museum of Russian Art, fully expecting to see works of
recent Russian immigrants. Instead, I found a small
collection of a few dozen 20th century works, from a
variety of artists, including, Dmitry Stelletsky,
Natalia Goncharova, Pinchus Kremene and Poitr
Konchalovsky. The collection was the gift of Maria and
Mikhail Zetlin. Zetlin was the grandson of Zeev
Wissotzky, founder of the Wissotzky tea company.
To my surprise, I discovered that the same building
also houses the Yechiel Nahari Museum of Far Eastern Art
(and the price of admission entitles you to see both).
Of the two, the Nahari museum is the Gem (although, in
both cases you’ll have to overlook things like water
stained carpets and peeling walls. While unsightly, this
shouldn’t deter the true art lover). The collection
features portable Buddhist shrines, a 15th century Ming
Dynasty Buddha, decorative metal work, ivory carvings,
Cloisonné, lacquer works and a series of (poorly lit)
mush-e warrior prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
I'm not sure I would recommend traveling clear across
the country to visit these two small museums (in the
absence of special exhibitions), but if you happen to be
in the area, you may as well stop by and visit, together
with your culinary explorations.
A new exhibition, Kazakhstan Artists
(celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Republic of
Kazakhstan’s Independence) just opened on October 27,
2001 at the Maria and Mikhail Zetlin Museum of Russian
Art. The exhibition will run through November 17, 2001.
Directions: The Yechiel Nahari Museum of Far Eastern
Art and Mikhail Zetlin Museum of Russian Art are located
at 18 Hibbat Zion Street, Ramat Gan.
Visiting Hours: Sunday- Thursday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM,
4:00 - PM 7:00 PM, Saturday, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM.
Entry Fee: 5 NIS/pp