SHUK, a playful take of Israeli, Turkish or eastern Mediterranean cuisine has poppped up in Santa Monica on Main Street next to Jinya Ramen thanks to Chef Gregg Drusinsky and Chef Sandy Ho.
Chef Gregg Drusinsky’s mom passed away while she was living in Israel which sent him back to the country from his fine dining cooking in NYC. Inspired by the open air markets in Jerusalem, Drusinksy’s menu reflects his passion and inspiration for a simple way of cooking and eating communally.
Chef Drusinsky consulted for a couple companies here in LA and he said he felt sad to be out of the kitchen, so this dinner experience was like coming out of retirement. He concocted this incredible pop-up dinner because he was not only invigorated by LA produce, but he felt there was no amazing place to get hummus on west side of LA.
He met Chef Sandy Ho this past summer while sailing in the Mediterranean where their idea of doing a pop-up was born. “She actually bought a ticket, slept on my couch, and we actually made it happen! We are so happy to be cooking and doing what we love. Our food is well spiced, vibrant, and healthy because like the topography of the Med, the LA region with its desert meets ocean meets nature is the perfect candidate for this style of food,” Drusinsky shared.
Sandy has traveled all over the world and lived in Turkey. “Nothing inspires me more than bringing people together over food,” she said.
Shuk we learned at dinner is a market in Jerusalem, a cultural center where people get ready for Shabbat or festivities. “You can find textiles, clothes, music, street vendors….. like heart and soul of the culture,” Drusinsky elaborated, and souk means marketplace. “We want to carry that transmission through the food and being playful with the food.”
Expect an array of classic shared dishes using fresh local ingredients like lamb shawarma, local squid, smoked mussels, brisket tagine with wood fired laffa bread, falafel-stuffed charcoal pita (Drusinsky used to consult for Juice Served Here aka LA’s infamous charcoal lemonade), charred eggplant with tahini, and hummus and cauliflower.
Dishes new to me included turkey figs with labneh and crispy rice with flame raisins and pistachios, both bites still on my mind. Dinner concluded with sweets like halva, a dessert made from tahini that tasted like a rich fluffy nutty peanut butter with wafers, which paired nicely with ice cream from Van Leeuwen.
Some menu items may change. The not-to-be-missed pop-up dinner starts December 7 through December 17 on Thursday – Sunday evenings. $55 per person. Get your tickets at www.shukpopup.com.
We sure hope SHUK finds its home and continues long after the pop-up is over.
2424 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA