• Yafa offers Mediterranean cuisine with flair

    by Richard Oh

    Yafa is a port city in Jordan: it also literally means “beautiful.” The owner and partner, Ben Khader was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. As a teenager in Jordan, he worked as a baker on a wood-fired oven.In 2004 he came to the United States to attend school at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. He also worked as a police dispatcher for five years with the police department while attending school. Ben wanted to further his education and decided to move to Monterey. He earned a degree in International Business from California State University at Monterey Bay. Soon after he worked a short stint at the American Embassy in Paris, France. After returning to the Monterey Bay area, he began to work with fellow Jordanian Faisal Nimri, the renowned chef at Carmel’s Dametra Café. Dametra is one of the busiest restaurants on the Peninsula. It’s known all over and has achieved the number four spot on Yelp throughout the US. Now that’s impressive.

    Walking home after work one night, Ben and Faisal spotted a space on the corner of Junipero and Fifth in Carmel, and knew what they had to do. Ben always dreamt of having his own restaurant and now it’s become reality. With the help from Faisal, Ben has now become a proud owner of Yafa, a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant. “Serving food that grandmother would be proud of.” They will also play music and dance as you dine in their nicely decorated dining room. Khader and Nimri have raised their passion for food, music and hospitality to an art. The menu offers something for everyone: from seafood to chicken to lamb and vegetarian dishes. It will please everyone in your group. Here are some of their more popular dishes:

    One of the most popular is the grilled octopus with capers, oregano, olive oil, shallots, garlic, and lemon. The octopus is mild and tender with zest. This is one of my favorites. We paired it with the Otter Cove Chardonnay. The Chardonnay offers butter up front, tropical fruits with a hint of vanilla on the finish. The food and wine flowed very nicely together. The flavors of butter and bright acid from the wine complimented the olive oil, seasoning and octopus.

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    The other popular dish is the cubed watermelon salad with feta cheese, basil, and pine nuts, with drizzled olive oil. It’s light and energizing. We paired it with the Listel Rose. The wine offers delicate fruits, it’s clean, refreshing with a hint of sweetness. It’s made from three different grapes, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault. The fruit flavors from the wine balanced the salad and didn’t overpower it.

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    The beef and lamb kebob rounded out the top three dishes at Yafa. The meat was perfectly cooked…moist and flavorful. It comes with cucumber yogurt, seasoned rice, and tzatziki. We paired it with the Oh Pinot Noir. You’ll get dark cherries, hints of raspberries and chocolate with a silky finish. This was a elegant pairing. The food and wine went amazingly well together.

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    Yafa is very inviting and comfortable. They offer good value for the money. Their portions are very healthy so come hungry and bring family and friends so you can share. Ben will treat you like family. You will not be disappointed. This place will soon be a favorite among many. Call (831) 624-9232 for reservations. On the corner of Junipero and 5th, Carmel.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 28, 2013

    Topics: Oh, Have A Taste!

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