While Roy Sassonkin is bringing something new to Northcote with his Israeli street-food bar, Tahina, he’s kept a bit of the past too. The High Street site was a fish-and-chip shop for 46 years, and Sassonkin has held on to the huge shark head sculpture out front.

“When we took over the shop everyone asked me to keep the shark,” says Sassonkin, who lives upstairs. “The community is really happy about that.”

The Tel Aviv-born chef moved to Melbourne four years ago and has worked in kitchens at Chin Chin, Hellenic Republic and Red Door Corner store.

He opened Tahina in August with partner Natalie Powell. The eatery is entirely vegetarian, with a few vegan options, too.

“We’re keeping it affordable and with a very chill vibe, so people can just come and have something to eat and go. It’s very casual.”

Just don’t roll up with a big group of friends expecting to dine in – the space is small. There’s only seating at the bar and along the walls, and a few spots outside.

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Signature dishes include the traditional baked-egg dish, shakshuka, in three “colours”. The red one comes with a spicy tomato sauce and is served with a pita pocket, salad and pickled cabbage. The green version is with broccoli, avocado, and zucchini. The white is with mushrooms, fennel and Jerusalem artichokes.

Its other specialties include falafel pockets or platters to serve two; a crispy eggplant with kale chips and tahini; and a six-hour roasted cauliflower, cooked in lemon juice and garlic until very soft and served with tahini.

Tahini also features in the dessert section, with a tahini affogato and tahini and Medjool-date ice cream made by Billy van Creamy.

Tahina doesn’t have a license to serve alcohol yet, but like the old fish and chip shop, it does takeaway.

223 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9972 1479

Tue to Sun 11am–late