Amid all the fancy Israeli restaurants attracting global attention, Michelin-starred Israeli chef Moshik Roth has quietly been building an empire of kosher sandwich shops where every dish costs just ₪8 (about $2.25).
Roth recently opened the 18th branch of Eight. This one’s in Ashkelon, near the marina.
Like most of its predecessors, the Ashkelon Eight is purposely situated away from the glitter of the big cities because Roth is on two missions: one to offer affordable and appetizing sandwiches to the masses, and the other to rev up the economy in peripheral locations across Israel.
“Chefs are in no hurry to open restaurants in the periphery,” comments Roth, who’s got another six branches under construction in outlying areas.
There are Eight branches also in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheva, but the majority are in out-of-the-spotlight locations including Hadera, Afula, Ashdod, Netivot and Rishon LeZion.
The menu features mainly burgers made of beef, lamb, duck or chicken, as well as the ever-popular chicken schnitzel (fried cutlet) – plus meat-free options such as omelet and Portobello sandwiches. Four kinds of salads are offered along with onion rings, fries, mashed potatoes and wings.
You can also get the classic Israeli poached-egg-and-tomato breakfast dish shakshuka, sloppy joes or meatballs in pita. The Eight menu has all-new desserts and is set to expand even further in the near future, including into the Arab village of Baka al-Gharbia.
How does Roth manage to keep prices so low? It’s about portion sizes. He explains that he noticed restaurant portions tend to be huge, leading to overeating and wasted food.
“Hence the idea was born to fight the culture of excessive consumption. From today we consumers will determine what we eat, how much we will eat, how much we will pay, and all this at sane prices, without of course giving up quality, freshness and safety,” he explains on the Eight website (available only in Hebrew). “We place emphasis on quality, novelty and keeping the consumer’s freedom of choice.”
If you’re hankering for more, you can order three items plus a drink for ₪26, or a main dish, fries and a drink for ₪18. Eight also recently started offering delivery.
Starting his restaurant career in his parents’ native Netherlands, Roth earned his first Michelin star in 2006 (the first ever for an Israeli chef) and his second one in 2009. In 2012, he and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud opened &samhoud places in Amsterdam, which was awarded two Michelin stars. (Michelin does not yet rate restaurants in Israel.)
Over the past few years, Roth has been a judge on Israel’s “Game of Chefs” cooking reality show. He splits his time between his residences and businesses in Holland and Israel.