A few months ago, in the winter of 2019, the dream of Chef Saeed Shami became a reality and his chef restaurant – Flooka – opened in the Old City of Akko. After almost 20 years in the industry, the time had come for Saeed to open up a place of his own. And it seems that this was the right time for him to do so. Over the years, he has traveled the world and worked in kitchens in countries in Africa, Europe and even as a chef on a ship. Shami brings all the aromas, flavors and experiences that he has amassed to Flooka’s kitchen. And every night at the restaurant, you will surely be surprised.
At Flooka Restaurant, every night you can end up with a different plate of food. “Whatever the fisherman brings me, I cook,” says Shami. It might sound to you like a restaurant in a deserted fishermen’s village in Greece, but it’s not. It’s completely real and is right here on the ancient streets of Akko. Shami only uses the freshest raw ingredients, vegetables and fruit handpicked directly from the market along with herbs from the garden next door to the restaurant. “When I run out of raw materials, I close the restaurant,” he says.
For many years, Saeed Shami worked as a culinary teacher at the ORT Educational Network, where he was highly esteemed and was presented the Outstanding Teacher Award by the Network’s management. During his teaching career, he worked with at-risk youth. By instilling in them a love of cooking, he helped dozens of teens abandon their pattern of wandering the streets and find employment and a new direction in life. A large percentage of Flooka’s employees are graduates of the culinary school where he taught.
When Shami is asked what has influenced his cooking style the most, he explains: “I have traveled a lot around the world, and from each place I took something with me. I particularly enjoyed meeting people, and each one taught me something about his national dish. The combination of all this has given me a lot of knowledge.” At Flooka, you can taste Shami’s unique style; however, to be more specific, the dishes have a Mediterranean character. A lot of fresh fish, straight from the fisherman’s boat, seafood, and meat.
The name Flooka refers to a type of ancient fisherman’s boat, but it is also the fisherman’s net used to catch calamari and fish from the sea. The restaurant is designed in an ancient style to resemble the fishermen’s villages of the Mediterranean region. Although the menu changes almost daily and there is no set menu, many customers return to Flooka because of a dish they tasted before. Shami makes sure to meet his customers’ wishes and is always ready to answer their special requests.
What dishes should you try at Flooka? Shami’s flagship dishes are his octopus, sea bream with cheese and red mullet fillet. Also available are original dishes such as fish with wood sorrel (the leaves we used to pick and suck when we were kids), as well as fish Makluba (a fish dish with rice and vegetables). There are also vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as different types of soups or pumpkin stuffed with pasta and sundried tomatoes. The venue can host private events of up to 50 people.
address: 14 Salah a Din Street, Akko