As part of our continuing ISRAEL21c Digital Ambassador series on vegan food in Israel, we had the privilege of interviewing the woman behind Tel Aviv’s incredible Café XoHo, Xoli Ormut-Durbin.
Xoli was born in Hong Kong to Canadian parents and moved to Australia when she was 19. In June 2008, at the age of 22, she moved to Israel.
At first, Xoli worked as a bartender and waitress in several establishments in Tel Aviv. These jobs not only helped her gain experience in Israel’s hospitality industry, but also challenged her to learn Hebrew in a unique way.
Taking her experiences working in restaurants and her newfound fluency in Hebrew, Xoli opened Café XoHo, and it has been a huge success for about 10 years.
Located at 17 Gordon Street just steps from Gordon Beach, Café XoHo draws customers from all lifestyles.
While Café XoHo is not entirely vegan – it also offers an array of gluten-free and vegetarian options – here we will specifically highlight its appeal to people who prefer a plant-based diet.
Growing up in China exposed Xoli to many things that made her feel strongly against hurting and even eating animals. This made it extremely important for Xoli to include a variety of vegan options on the menu.
Although veganism was not as popular in Israel when Café XoHo opened a decade ago as it is today, veganism has taken the country by storm, and Café XoHo has fortunately been along for the wild ride.
Q: Why did you choose the name “Cafe XoHo?”
A: It is the combination of my name and my husband’s name: Xoli + Howie. We originally opened XoHo together when we were just friends, and after a year he left (it wasn’t his cup of tea) and I continued to run it on my own.
Q: What is the most popular vegan dish?
A: For a salty option, the bulgur bowl with grilled crispy tofu, fresh and roast veggies, soy-tehina dressing and optional sautéed kale. For a sweet option, our vegan banana bread with homemade cashew cream.
Q: What vegan dish would you recommend?
A: Other than the bulgur bowl and banana bread, I also love the vegan version of our seasonal Beer Bread Breakfast. It is a country-style breakfast consisting of homemade beer bread, an ever-changing spread, scrambled tofu, and a topping of seasonal fruits and vegetables.