Rammy Award-winning restaurateur and James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Ashok Bajaj is shifting from modern American food to Israeli cooking at Sababa, the new restaurant he’s opening in Cleveland Park within the next few weeks.
Bajaj closed decades-old neighborhood restaurant Ardeo last weekend, promising to return with “an entirely new concept” in short order. Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema shared the details about the forthcoming eatery via social media.
According to Sietsema, Bajaj ate his way across Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while researching this latest venture — a place he initially planned to call “Maya,” until the word “sababa” (Israeli slang for “cool’) kept popping up in conversations he had while overseas.
Bajaj has tapped Minibar alum Ryan Moore to lead the kitchen at the new restaurant. Initial offerings include traditional hummus, carrot salad with pomegranate-glazed chicken liver, as well as lamb and beef dishes. Fellow restaurateur Todd Gray serves similar fare (plus some terrific pickled vegetables) at Manna, the Israeli restaurant he opened last fall inside the new Museum of the Bible located in Southwest.
Local restaurant critic David Hagedorn predicted more Israeli restaurants might crop up late last year.