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Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani shocks NYC with his $24 tomato

The dish, a single peeled tomato cut into eight pieces and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, is on the menu at HaSalon, his new restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen

Illustrative: A diced tomato (@eyaltomato on Instagram)
Illustrative: A diced tomato (@eyaltomato on Instagram)

It’s difficult to shock New York.

But Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani, best known for his esoteric and poetic ramblings about cuisine and a deep passion for tomatoes, has just done that — with a tomato.

Shani’s newly opened HaSalon in Hell’s Kitchen offers a dish of single tomato for $24.

The plate, called “The best tomato in NY is naked,” comes peeled, cut into eight chunks and served lightly drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.

Chef Eyal Shani (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Chef Eyal Shani (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

“It was a very nice tomato, but, for that price, it should come with a massage and a pedicure,” wrote The New Yorker.

The New York Post was slightly more enthusiastic about the actual tomato, which it described as having a “deep, nutty-and-sweet, late-August, just-picked flavor.”

But still.

“Its appearance on the menu offended my wallet,” the Post said.

“We spared no expense and journeyed for a month to find these tomatoes and finally found them” at the Union Square Greenmarket, the paper quoted Shani as saying.

He commented on his tomatoes before opening the restaurant.

“Yesterday, two weeks before we open HaSalon New York, the tomatoes that I planted ripened, and it was as if they rubbed my eyes and said to me, ‘this is not a dream, it is reality’,” Shani wrote on his Instagram (where, of course, he goes by eyaltomato.)

According to the Post, the tomatoes he uses are grown hydroponically in nutrients-infused liquid in a process that supposedly eliminates the need to wait for the late-summer growing season.

HaSalon is Shani’s second venture in New York, following the popular pita-themed Miznon.

In Israel, Shani has been a long-time judge on Israel’s “Master Chef” TV show, where he frequently waxes poetic about his love for tomatoes, something he continues on his Instagram page.

“This tomato in the picture is the single best living at this moment in the entire universe,” he wrote in one post (above).

This one is titled: “A naked couple on the rocks.”

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