For several years, the corner restaurant space on West Broadway and Grand Street in Soho was occupied by a restaurant called Taka Taka that served "Mexican-Japanese fusion" food. The "Mexican sushi" and "Japanese tacos" were exactly as terrible an idea as they sound. Also, a conveyor belt was involved.
RIP Taka Taka.
That space is now home to Combina, another restaurant that has attempted to marry the culinary traditions of two countries that are thousands of miles apart.
This time, the combination is at least of cuisines that actually seem like they might go well together: Israeli and Spanish tapas. Considering those countries are at least both on the Mediterranean, and considering the restaurant is run by a chef who's made a name with modern, and generally delicious takes on Israeli food at Taim, Bar Bolonat, and Balaboosta, things seemed promising. With bright colors and plenty of light, the space even looked nice.
Fortunately, the execution is better than the previously conveyor belt Japanese taco situation. Unfortunately, this still not a place you need to make an effort to travel to.
The food here isn't exactly bad, and there are some fun moments (see: salt cod donuts) but most of it is pretty disappointing. Some dishes are very small and not too exciting, but still $16 (see: tiny little pot of eggplant escabeche). Some dishes you can simply find better elsewhere (see: burger). And some dishes are fusion that just doesn't work (see: "sabich tostada" a.k.a. eggplant and hardboiled egg on a tortilla chip). After that one, we cut our losses and ordered the cheese plate.
Mexican sushi, anyone?
Hot little savory dough balls mixed with cod, these taste like a bagel and a donut had a child, and it's the one place on this menu where we saw fusion work out.
Both our server and someone on Instagram raved about this dish, and we will admit it looks pretty. But let's be clear: this is a fruit plate with flavorless squid ink drizzled on top.
The cool thing about being a tapas restaurant is that you can make up random prices for small dishes. Well, there are better ways to spend $14 than on this little jar of pickled eggplant.
A sabich sandwich is one of the great Israeli street foods - hardboiled egg and greasy fried eggplant are stuffed with tahini into a hot, fresh pita. This is a riff on that, but placed on top of what is essentially a tortilla chip. We wish sabich a safe return to its place in the pita.
Topped with feta and served on a potato bun, this is a perfectly tasty thing to eat, but it doesn't rival any of the city's better burgers.
Remember this part of the story? 😕