Every once in a while, a restaurant comes along that is so modest that it is imperative for you to try it for yourself to understand what makes it so spectacular. That restaurant would be the newest addition in Wantagh, Kama Asian Fusion, led by Chef Peter Beck.
Beck is a Michelin Star-rated executive chef, earning the title while he headed the kitchen at Tamarind in Tribeca, more than 20 years ago. Beck has also secured epicurean awards from The James Beard Foundation and The New York Times.
Beck began his culinary career while working for a five-star hotel in Mumbai, India. This is Beck’s first fusion restaurant. One that he hopes will surprise food lovers. He told Long Island Weekly that Thai food is typically what people expect when they hear “fusion” but after exploring many traditional Asian dishes, ingredients and flavors from China, Iran, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan and his birthplace, India, Beck has put his own native New Delhi spin on each of the dishes to create a brilliant fusion menu. The dish names, he maintains, are still traditionally Asian.
Many of the cocktails on Kama’s menu are fun, yet recognizably traditional. Enjoy a Spiced Rum Mule, a Beautiful Pink Lady (freshly made pink lemonade) or a Tropical Island made with newly processed infused ingredients. One of the crowd favorites has been a new cocktail that is not yet on the menu. It’s a funky spin on a Long Island Iced Tea, tentatively named the Neela M.D. for its vivid blue hue and for its creators.
Do not fill up on the basket of naan, even though it is easy to overindulge in the fulfilling leavened bread, common to India. A variety of naan flavors are available including plain, rosemary, garlic, cheese and onion.
If you are really well-versed in fusion ingredients and dishes, choose from any one of the main or curry dishes that are hearty and bursting with flavor.
One of the most popular curry dishes is Handi Gohst, lamb simmered in onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs, with a hint of nutmeg and cardamom ($24). Another popular curry dish is the classic Chicken Tikka Masala, grilled chicken breast in a creamy tomato and fenugreek sauce ($24).
However, if you are new to the fusion concept, try a variety of small plates to get the best sampling of all of Beck’s amazingly appetizing creations.
Some of the small plates that you might consider are:
Amritsari Paneer: paneer roll that is infused with cumin, coriander, pomegranate and ginger, served atop crispy okra ($16). Paneer, an Indian cottage cheese, is a fresh cheese made from cow milk.
Kurkure Khasta: cracker crisps topped with chickpeas, potatoes, tamarind chutney and yogurt, garnished with crunchy puffs and dates ($13).
Scallop Verde: roasted tomatillos, jalapeno, cilantro and mango salsa over fresh, perfectly cooked scallops ($18). This dish is moderately spicy. If you cannot tolerate spicy, ask the waiter to lessen the tomatillo heat.
Roasted Mussels: mussels in garlic, ginger, curry and tomato broth with vadai ($16). The mussels are out of the shells, resting beautifully on vadai, or vada, a savory fried fritter from India. Vadai can be a fritter, cutlet, doughnut or dumpling. This vadai resembles sliced polenta.
Peshawari Tikka: chicken breast that is first marinated in ginger, garlic and herbs and then grilled in a tandoor, a special clay oven used in Asian cooking and baking ($16).
A typical children’s menu is also available, including chicken tenders, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, fries and macaroni ($4 to $7).
There is truly something for everyone on Kama’s menu, especially vegetarian and gluten-free choices.
Save room for dessert. Top your pleasurable meal off with one of a variety of classic and Asian-inspired desserts like Shahi Tukra Gulab Jamun (cream-filled bread pudding balls on a pillow of condensed milk sauce), Paan Mousse (creamy whipped betal leaf and mint mousse topped with chopped dates) or Malpua Gajrela (carrot pudding), ranging in price from $6 to $10.
The wait- and kitchen-staff are amiable and extremely knowledgeable about the menu and its various ingredients. Let the waiter know your tolerance for spicy food. The chef will gladly adjust the heat of any dish to your liking.
Kama Asian Fusion is open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., on Saturday from noon to midnight and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dine-in and curbside pickup service is available. Reservations are highly encouraged.
The dining room at Kama Asian Fusion is elegant and visually appealing. It is located at 1929 Wantagh Ave. in Wantagh, just north of Sunrise Highway and only steps away from the Wantagh train station on the Babylon line.
There is a small plaza lot where the restaurant is located, in addition to on-street parking adjacent to the plaza and a municipal lot nearby.
Visit www.kamafusion.com or call 516-804-6100 to learn more and to make a reservation.