When chef Ran Kimelfeld left Surry Hill’s Nour, he vowed never to do another opening. “It’s always so stressful the days before opening; I don’t know why I’m doing it again, but here I am,” he says, laughing.
Kimelfeld is talking to Broadsheet from outside his newly opened restaurant, Tayim, which is on the narrow sandstone-lined Nurses Walk, a renowned laneway that cuts between the heritage buildings of The Rocks.
At Nour Kimelfeld cooked modern interpretations of food from the Levant – an ancient region that includes parts of the Middle East, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Syria and the south-east corner of Turkey. “I wanted to move on from Nour and do something more hearty and simple,” he says. “I’ve spent a lot of years cooking food from other countries; at Tayim I’m doing the food that’s in my DNA.”
That means food from his native Israel, with Libyan influences as a nod to his mum. “I’m focusing on the food I grew up on: Israeli street food with North African flavours. They work really well together,” he says. At Tayim and its neighbouring Tayim Deli – which both opened as part of the Harbour Rocks Hotel – Kimelfeld’s favourite menu items will be familiar, but his versions are distinctly Israeli.
Hummus, for example (which is “like a religion in Israel”), is made from slow-cooked chickpeas blended with tahini, and he’s done a version of falafel – a fragrant mix of coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and caraway.
Most of the beautifully elegant food is cooked on a two-metre barbeque that’s central to the main dining room. There’s grilled chicken finished in tangy sumac, a 300-gram rib eye on the bone and served with filfel chuma, a garlic and spice condiment ubiquitous in North Africa. “We eat it as a side and it’s also used as the base for different dishes,” he says. “It’s a bit like sambal in Southeast Asian cuisine.”
While Nour is at the elegant, modern end of the dining spectrum, Tayim is much more casual. The space is quintessential of The Rocks area, with the walls of the main dining room, outdoor balcony and private room left bare to show off carefully restored sandstone walls and the beautifully speckled marble tables. And while Kimelfeld says, “[The Rocks] is not as obvious [a location] as opening in Darlinghurst or on Crown Street [where Nour is], I hope we’ll get people curious to eat in this beautiful area of Sydney.”
Mon to Fri 6.30am–10pm
Sat to Sun 7am–11.30pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on December 12, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.