There's no better way to start Shabbat morning than with a plate of jachnun, the decadent and filling Yemenite pastry that takes ten hours to prepare and ten seconds to devour. While those outside the loop have no idea what they're missing, those in the know scoff at their bloodshot eyed friends guzzling back futile energy drink-espresso-Tylenol cocktails the morning after a wild Friday night. One bite of flaky, caramelized goodness topped with the perfect Bloody Mary alternative (a spicy tomato and cilantro-based hot sauce called skhug) and you'll be kissing that hangover goodbye...and kissing that hard-boiled egg hello.
While more grueling to make than challah, finding the perfect place to acquire jachnun can be a lifelong endeavor. After much soul searching, I have found the place I can call home (for an hour at least until I'm kicked out for the next customer). And so, to help you on this difficult journey, I've assembled my infinite wisdom to give you a guide to the dos and don'ts of 'jachnnuning' in the Holy Land:
DO: go to the source. Wander through the enchanting narrow backstreets of the Yemenite Quarter (Kerem HaTeimanim). Tucked behind Shuk HaCarmel is Jachnun Buba. This tiny hole-in-the-wall is most distinguishable by the crowds of jachnun-lovers in on the secret. Grab a seat, order fast while supplies last and smile at your small accomplishment. (23 Beit Yosef St)
DON'T: pay attention to the stray cats enjoying the leftovers of the naive diner who gets up mid-meal to pay or use the restroom. They too will smile at their small accomplishment. Which brings up a second no-no...
DON'T: go to the bathroom mid-jachnun. Between jachnun #1 and jachnun #2 perhaps. But NEVER leave the table with unprotected produce still sitting there.
DO: indulge in family-run cafés whose jachnun is baked from scratch by women addressed as "Auntie" or "Savta". Most pass right by Café Pachut (‘Simply Coffee’) with too-much-tequila tunnel vision for the ‘balagan’ that is Miznon brunch. However, jachnun at this tiny neighborhood coffee nook is an obligatory weekly event. Every Saturday, the flaky treat is hand-prepped by "Aunt Tzipi" and baked to order by Oshrit, the owner. One bite will win you over for life. (26 King George St)
DON'T: go to the AM:PM next door and buy half-defrosted jachnun from the black abyss of a mystery container lurking beside the cash. I'll spare the dirty details, but if you ignore my advice and soon after find the urge to purge, don't say I didn't warn you.
DO: wake up early and drive to a local jachnun merchant in the suburbs (I'd recommend the one in Tel Mond). The jachnun is always fresh, the lines are never long and the exchange is always neighborly. Plus, you can pick up the goods, bring them home and bake them up fresh in the comfort of your own home. No better way to spend Shabbat than with your family.
DON'T: wait until 15:00, run to the seemingly unassuming 22 HaYarkon Street house where the only marks of jachnun are a sign outside the door and orgasmic aromas that make up for last night's dry spell and expect instant gratification. Although the family home that doubles as a weekend jachnun brunch establishment was once one of Tel Aviv's best kept secrets, thanks to blogs like these (whoops), the house sees the likes of more jachnuners than Yemen itself. Good luck getting a seat. (22 HaYarkon St)