Blog Eat & Drink

Global Eats: 38 Restaurants That Put the World on Your Plate

All but 4 of the 50 states are geographically larger than ours. But New Jersey—because of its immigrant communities and the numerous roots of lots of its citizens—gives a veritable expo of world cuisines in its packed confines. In these pages, we concentrate on the cooking with which you will be least acquainted, omitting those we expect you recognize greatest (Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Thai) and the two we’ve celebrated in earlier points (Italian and Mexican). So grab a fork, chopsticks, ladle or strip of Ethiopian injera. The flavors and parts are typically massive, the tabs small. —Eric Levin

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Afghan Kabob

Wrightstown

Located simply outdoors Fort Dix, Afghan Kabob is usually full of men and women in uniform. Many developed a style for the cuisine while deployed in Afghanistan, the owner’s homeland. The juicy kebabs (hen, lamb or beef kofta) are aromatic with cumin, saffron and black pepper. They’re served over rice pilaf, with warm pita and a green salad. Don’t overlook the stewed chickpeas with curry and chili; they’re important—and greatest unfold over the whole lot. Cash only. BYO. —Shelby Vittek
82 Fort Dix Street, 609-723-3050

Photo courtesy of Korai Kitchen

Jersey City

When Nur-E Gulshan Rahman and her daughter, Nur-E Farhana Rahman, have been scouting places, they prevented blocks full of Indian restaurants. Though India and Bangladesh share a border, the cuisines differ, and the Rahmans needed to convey their meals out of India’s shadow. In 2018, they opened Korai Kitchen near Journal Square. Everything is served household type in a buffet in the cozy storefront. The menu, which modifications twice a day, may embrace creamy hen korma, pumpkin shrimp curry, begun bhaja (fried eggplant), and numerous spiced vegetables. Hilsa, thought-about the supreme fish, is flown in from Bangladesh. Everything is cooked by Nur-E Gulshan, together with the stellar bhorthas, flavorful mashes created from eggplant, potato, tomato or egg. BYO. —SV
576 Summit Avenue, 201-721-6566

Montclair

Since 2011, Brazilian native Ilson Goncalves has been displaying individuals there’s extra to Brazilian food than steak (though his sirloins are excellent). Examples? Grilled salmon with passion-fruit sauce, and acorn squash crammed with shrimp, squash and Parmesan. On weekends, Samba serves feijoada, the national dish—considered one of the world’s great meat stews, combining beef, pork ribs, bacon and black beans with sides of collards, greens and seasoned yucca powder to dump into the stew, enriching its taste and texture. BYO. —EL
7 Park Street, 973-744-6764

Hackensack

A basic Colombian meal at this elegant, 30-year-old eatery starts with ceviche mixto, lime-cured chunks of seafood with shaved onion and plantain chips. And perhaps the chorizo appetizer, with onions, peppers and a few biscuit-like arepas. Upgrade from the normal skinny steak to the thick, juicy skirt steak of the paisa churrasco. If you’d wish to by no means be hungry again, try to finish the unofficial national dish, bandeja paisa: grilled steak, fried pork belly, rice, beans, candy plantains, avocado and a fried egg. There is a bowl of spicy, house-made salsa on the desk. Use it. The in-house bakery sells these fluffy arepas, savory empanadas, and the powerfully addictive buñuelo, a tacky puff bread. BYO. —Michael Aharon
12 Mercer Street, 201-343-3399

House-made empanadas.

Photo by Shelby Vittek

Somerville

Chef/proprietor Maida Morales, originally from San José, Costa Rica, opened Division Cafe in 2013. It’s recognized for its baked empanadas and traditional Costa Rican meals, which is usually characterised as easy. Costa Rican dishes don’t front-load spicy chilies, but they are current, flavorful and satisfying. Divison makes a strong gallo pinto (“spotted rooster”), the national dish of fried rice and beans, fried egg, corn tortillas, fried farmer’s cheese and candy plantains. Equally comforting are arroz con pollo (rice with pulled hen) and carne en salsa, a beef and vegetable stew served with white rice and beans. BYO. —SV
8 Division Street, 908-450-7979

Rahway

Brothers Pablo and Jerry Varona opened this swank lounge in 2007. Their mom, Rosa, provided most of the recipes for conventional Cuban dishes like pernil (roast pork) and ropa vieja (shredded beef). The brothers have added their very own—the widespread Babalú hen, full of fried sweet plantains, black beans, chorizo and a hint of goat cheese. Another fashionable twist is Cubanitos—pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, the components of a standard Cuban sandwich, however fried inside a wonton. The flan is creamy and eggy, its caramel topping not too sweet. Signature cocktails embrace the CubaNu Punch, made with Midori, coconut rum, banana liqueur, and pineapple and orange juices. “It’s our job to make sure everyone has a great experience,” says Pablo. —Carmen Cusido
1467 Main Street, 732-540-1724

Willingboro

Luis Geronimo grew up watching his mom and grandmother make Dominican dishes, which impressed him to pursue a culinary profession. Last October, he opened Sol Sazon, dedicated to “Dominican soul food.” Pastelitos (savory turnovers) and yuca fries, loaded with tomato, onions and avocado crema, are served with a flight of sauces. One is vibrant, herbaceous chimichurri. It lifts any dish, including the broiled whole-parrotfish particular. Fresh juices (tamarind, ardour fruit and a Caribbean fruit referred to as soursop) are especially refreshing. BYO. —SV
4324 Route 130 #4, 609-835-0002

The dining area at Dashen in New Brunswick. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

At Dashen, samplers include injera and stews typically served in a mesob, a colorful, spherical, wicker basket. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

New Brunswick

For a vibrant introduction to Ethiopian consuming, order considered one of Dashen’s combo platters, starting from 5 to 10 samples of conventional meat and vegetable dishes. Consider doro wot (spicy hen stew), tibs wot (spiced, cubed, stir-fried beef), menchet abesh (delicate ground beef simmered in spiced butter), kitfo (lean beef spiced with purple pepper, cumin and ginger), gomen (simmered collard greens), shiro (chickpeas with Ethiopian spices and herbs) or kik alicha (yellow cut up peas with garlic, ginger and turmeric). They’ll be served atop injera, the sour, spongy crepe made from teff flour that serves as each plate and utensil. You tear off items to scoop up the sauces and stews. BYO. —SV
88 Albany Street, 732-249-0494

Montclair

Fifteen years ago, sisters Berekti and Akberet Mengistu fearlessly opened Mesob despite never having worked in a restaurant. They’d grown up in a family of 10 youngsters. With kin dropping by all the time, cooking dinner for 40 on little discover was no massive deal. They figured they might handle it. And they have been proper. Mesob is busy most nights, and other people have taken to the Ethiopian approach of eating: scooping up subtly spiced meat and vegetable stews with hand-torn strips of spongy injera, Ethiopia’s uniquely absorbent sourdough crepes. BYO. —EL
515 Bloomfield Avenue, 973-655-9000

Bloomfield, Jersey City

Maximo Gimenez, a local Filipino and a Stanford grad, opened the first Max’s in 1945 in Quezon City. It turned a sequence. The whole-fried-chicken recipe, a signature dish created by Gimenez’s niece way back, is unusually tender and attractive. Other hits embrace the crispy spring rolls full of adobo-seasoned pork purée, and the bicol categorical, which is fried pork belly in coconut milk with shrimp paste and spices. Ease the warmth with a bowl of halo-halo—purple yam ice cream with sweet beans, fruit preserves, rice flakes, coconut shreds and even cheddar to counter the sweetness. —CC
65 Belleville Avenue, 973-743-1900; 687 Newark Avenue, 201-798-2700

Mount Laurel

Part market, half café. Order from the every day alternatives at the hot-tray counter. Staples embrace hen adobo (in a vinegar-soy sauce), pancit (rice noodles with greens), barbecue hen or pork skewers, and kare-kare (a peanut-sauce stew simmered with oxtail and different meats). Portions are plentiful. For dessert, attempt ube halaya, a jam comprised of boiled, mashed purple yam (ube) topped with coconut flakes; or halo-halo, consisting of ube ice cream, shaved ice, evaporated milk and different toppings. Starting at 8 am Sundays, Manila Cafe hosts a Filipino breakfast feast. BYO. —SV
200 Larchment Boulevard, 856-222-0604

Stanhope

The Aichem household, initially from Germany, has been serving the conventional dishes of their homeland since 1977. Stepping into the Black Forest Inn is like stepping right into a misplaced period of eating places: multiple eating rooms, dark picket paneling and, specific to this custom, servers dressed in dirndls. Also unchanged are the splendidly ready basic German choices: crisp Wiener schnitzel, buttery spaetzle, wealthy slices of sauerbraten, candy braised cabbage, and flammkuchen, a kind of skinny German pizza spread with crème fraîche, bits of bacon, caramelized purple onion and mushrooms. There are more than a dozen dessert choices, but the mild and flaky apple strudel is the just one you owe it to yourself to attempt. —SV
249 Route 206 North, 973-347-3344

Trenton

On the former website of the famed DeLorenzo’s Pizza, La Parilla (“The Grill”) within reason priced and family pleasant. It’s owned by siblings Juan Carlos and Amanda Diaz; their brother, Eduardo, is the supervisor. About 60 % of their clients are Latino. The hottest dish is Tres Carnes a la Parilla, with three grilled meats: flank steak, hen breast and carne adobada (conventional Guatemalan pork marinated in a tomato-based adobo). It comes with rice and beans, salad, avocado, sweet plantains and fried taquitos. The drink of selection is té de elote, a warm corn tea with kernels of corn, milk and a hint of cinnamon. BYO. —CC
1007 Hamilton Avenue, 609-989-1912

Mommie Joe’s

Trenton

Quite a lot of Caribbean flags adorn Mommie Joe’s signal, however the greatest meals here is Haitian. For more than 30 years, the take-out spot has served scrumptious diri ak djon djon, a specialty generally known as black rice. Earthy and deeply flavored with black mushrooms native to northern Haiti, it additionally accompanies spicy stews of oxtail, hen, pork or goat, as well as fried fish. All include fiery peppers sliced thin and marinated in vinegar. BYO. —SV
1036 South Broad Street, 609-695-6561

Mount Masala in Voorhees. Clockwise from above proper: Salt-and-pepper shrimp; sizzling hen momo; Manchurian goat and Himalayan beef, with rice and sauces on the aspect. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Voorhees

There’s spicy, and then there’s Mount Masala spicy. The family-owned restaurant—opened by Gayatri “GG” Giri, her husband, Bharat Bist, and her brother, Jaya Nepal, in 2017 in the former Tiffin area—doesn’t shy from the warmth of the food of their native Nepal. “With spice, you are warmer, with more energy, and can climb higher,” says GG. Of Nepali cuisine, she says, “Hardly any people know about it. I wanted to showcase the flavors I had in my daily life.”

Nepal’s earthy flavors contain cumin, dried chilies, coriander, pepper and garlic. They flip up in every thing from dry-pot Himalayan beef to cumin-laden Manchurian goat to chili-flecked chow mein. Sizzling momos (Himalayan dumplings full of greens or hen and topped with tomato chutney) are served, still smoking, in a cast-iron dish. The restaurant imports all its herbs and spices from Nepal, as well as yak milk, which has twice the fats of cow’s milk and is mixed with regular milk to make super-creamy ice lotions. BYO. —SV
300 White Horse Road, 856-281-9711

Cafe MoBay in Bloomfield. From left: Patrick Smith; recent sorrel, mango and pineapple drinks. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Bloomfield

“People tell me, ‘There’s not many Jamaicans in Bloomfield. Why do you put a Jamaican restaurant here?’” says Patrick Smith. “I always tell them, ‘Good food people will find good food. It might take awhile, but they will.’” Smith’s Cafe MoBay (brief for Montego Bay) is a bit of over two years previous, and individuals are discovering their method there. Smith—who grew up in Jamaica, graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York, and have become a chef in New York restaurants and New Jersey nation clubs—serves a menu he calls “90 percent Jamaican.” His jerk Gulf shrimp with sweet plantain and house-made tomato marmalade is irresistible. His curried goat with rice (a Jamaican staple) is tender and scrumptious, his sautéed callaloo one among the most involving leafy vegetable dishes around. Smith’s French training especially shines in desserts like his brioche bread pudding with vanilla rum sauce and his warm, flourless chocolate cake. BYO. —EL
1039 Broad Street, 973-337-8460

Hightstown

Chef Kenroy Morgan, a local of Jamaica, and his wife, Jewel, opened this place in 2013. In the brilliant and cheery restaurant, Morgan makes wonderful renditions of the Jamaican dishes he discovered from his father: flavorful beef patties, unapologetically spicy grilled jerk hen, tender curried goat over seasoned rice, slow-cooked and aromatic oxtail stew, and fried sweet plantains. Then there’s ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s nationwide dish—made with ackee fruit, salted cod, onions, scorching pepper and spices—delicious and transporting. BYO. —SV
110 Mercer Street, 609-308-2108

Cherry Hill

The tables don’t have built-in grills like many Korean barbecue joints, however the menu is unmistakably Korean. Owned by the Kwak family for almost a decade, Eden’s highlights embrace handmade beef and pork dumplings, and dolsot bibimbap, a scorching stone bowl crammed with rice, marinated beef, vegetables and a fried egg tossed with gochujang. Thinly sliced barbecued brief ribs, referred to as galbi, are easy and utterly scrumptious. Banchan, the aspect dishes served with a Korean meal, embrace kimchi, marinated mushrooms, seaweed and seasoned bean sprouts. They’re nice to nibble on before your meal arrives. BYO. —SV
1428 Marlton Pike East, 856-489-5757

North Brunswick

Known as Headquarters until January of this yr, Four Seasons does a big take-out business, but fills the dining room as nicely. Lentils bob in a brilliant, lemony soup, a signature dish. Cabbage rolls full of spiced, chopped meat are a frequent particular. Chicken kabobs are moist and meaty and come with grilled peppers and onions, as well as hummus, which is mild, with balanced notes of sesame and garlic. The baba ghanoush is correctly smoky, but the delicate flavor of eggplant shines by way of. Grape leaves full of rice and chickpeas are wonderful and warm. The tabouli seduces with chopped recent parsley and lemon juice. —Emily Drew
1892 Route 130 North, 732-658-6555

Photo courtesy of Norma’s

Cherry Hill

Norma and George Bitar, who emigrated from Lebanon during that nation’s civil warfare, opened Norma’s in 1996. The restaurant and gourmand shop turned a haven for Middle Eastern households, as well as others who relish the age-old recipes Norma prepares: stewed lamb with honey and almonds; kabobs; sfiha (a Levantine open-faced lamb or beef pie); mujaddara (lentils, rice and caramelized onions); and kibbi (bulgur, onions and floor meat, served fried, baked or raw). The vegetarian platter gives crisp falafel and mezze comparable to hummus, baba ghanoush and stellar stuffed grape leaves with recent pita. Norma’s additionally gives vegan and vegetarian takes on traditional dishes similar to moussaka and shawarma. The Bitars’ three youngsters—Elias, Mariette and Ziad—carry on the family’s legacy. BYO. —SV
145 Barclay Farms Center, 856-795-1373

Fair Lawn, Englewood

Rose Hajjarian opened the unique Rose’s Place in Fair Lawn in 2000 and its Englewood branch in 2008. “Rose is the mind behind everything,” says her daughter, Yesmene Allam, Englewood’s chef. “We make everything from scratch from fresh ingredients and cook everything to order. We grill over hardwood charcoal, not gas.” You can taste the distinction in the smoky baba ghanoush, which has a balancing brightness, and in the small, dense mekanek sausages, made with lamb, pine nuts and—the subtly enhancing ingredient—pomegranate molasses. Imam bayildi is a Lebanese eggplant and tomato ragù, redolent of cumin and allspice. Kofta, ground lamb sausage smothered with tahini sauce, varieties an inseparable alliance. BYO. —EL
32-01 Broadway, 201-475-8800; 126 Engle Street, 201-541-0020

Edison

Much of the menu is adorned with Thai favorites for the suburban viewers, but the standouts are Malay. Roti canai, a crispy pancake served with a dipping sauce thick with curried hen and potatoes, makes a terrific begin. Satays, skewers of hen or beef seasoned with a marinade that features lemongrass and turmeric, are grilled to juicy perfection. Beef rendang, a semi-spicy Malaysian staple, is tender and flavorful, with notes of lemongrass, curry and coconut. Pulut hitam, a warm, creamy dessert porridge, is rich with black sticky rice and coconut milk. BYO. —SV
1803 Lincoln Highway, 732-777-1300

Parsippany

The Moroccan-born Abdelfettah El Akkari opened Marakesh in a small strip mall in 1996. Since then, he’s grown the restaurant’s spectacular collection of Moroccan decor: textured ceramics, Moorish lighting, vibrant throw pillows and a Moroccan drum. With low-lying couches and etched brass trays that function tables, the dining area feels more like a lounge—which is sensible, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings, when dinner is accompanied by belly dancers (reservations beneficial). Even then, you’ll need to come for the strong flavors on the menu. The sampler includes a rich and thick hummus, a salad of cooked eggplant and tomatoes referred to as zaalouk, and a posh and smoky baba ghanoush, served alongside heat pita. Traditional tagine dishes are cooked in a clay pot; the saffron-spiced lamb shank and Tunisian hen, flavored with harissa, are particularly tender. Herby and aromatic, the grilled lamb kofta, constructed from seasoned minced meat, is charred and juicy. BYO. —SV
321 Route 46 East, 973-808-0062

Photo courtesy of Seven Valleys

Hoboken

Encountering a dearth of Persian eating places in Hudson County, Hoboken mother-daughter pair Maryanne Fike and Dale Ryan opened Seven Valleys to share herby rice pilafs, juicy kebabs and hearty stews with the group. Now, lovers of tahdig (crispy saffron rice), ghormeh sabzi (a stew of herbs, beans and dried Persian limes), and lots of other conventional dishes have a (small, 24-seat) place with glossy, airy decor to frequent. Not as traditional, but well-liked with Seven Valleys diners, are vegetarian swaps, resembling tofu instead of hen in fesenjan, a stew thick with pomegranate paste and ground walnuts. Servers are completely satisfied to recommend dishes and explain elements, from the sour cherries in the albaloo polo rice to the sumac bottles on every desk. BYO. —Sophia F. Gottfried
936 Washington Street, 201-792-5979

Top: Costanera’s ceviche consists of lump crab, ahi tuna and shrimp, and is served with toasted corn nuts. Below, from left: Costanera’s Chicharron de Pescado; shrimp soup; Tiradito Nikkei. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Montclair

Chef Juan Placencia’s first restaurant (for his latest, see evaluation, page 84) earned three stars from NJM when it opened in 2010. It’s still terrific and busy as ever. Portions are large and flavors are wealthy and nicely woven, from an enormous bowl of spicy prawn soup (with floating fried egg) to a few of the greatest pollo a la brasa (rotisserie hen) anyplace—the invigorating marinade penetrates deep into the meat. Ceviches, Peru’s signature marinated raw-fish salads, and tiraditos, Peruvian crudos, are spirited and tremendous recent. BYO. —EL
511 Bloomfield Avenue, 973-337-8289

Middlesex

Ceviche is spoken here: uncooked fish, shrimp and scallops marinated in lime juice with onions and chili peppers, served with sweet potato, large-kernel Peruvian corn and cancha (toasted corn nuts). Equally vibrant are tiraditos, skinny slices of purple snapper in lime juice, topped with creamy sauce. Anticuchos, a road food, are skewers of grilled veal hearts, tripe or filet mignon. Terras Ceviche makes wonderful lomo saltado, a stir-fry of sirloin, onions and tomatoes; and chaufas, a method of fried rice.Both stem from the affect of Chinese immigrants. BYO. —SV
559 Bound Brook Road, 732-752-3700

Royal Warsaw’s hearty Plate a la Warsaw, with stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, pierogi and hunter’s stew. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Elmwood Park

A palace of polished comfort food, Royal Warsaw provides house-made pierogi plump with meat, potato and cheese, or with sauerkraut and mushrooms. Potato pancakes, one other staple, are fluffy. Polish delicacies is wealthy in meat: grilled kielbasa; breaded pork cutlets; cabbage full of pork and rice; a hearty, pork-based hunter’s stew; and pork shank sluggish cooked in vegetables and beer sauce until the meat falls off the bone. It all goes properly with a Polish lager reminiscent of Żywiec or Lomza, each on draught. —SV
871 River Drive, 201-794-9277

Photo courtesy of Broa Cafe

Jersey City

Tucked into the backyard degree of a brownstone, Broa might simply be missed. But what a disgrace that may be. The inside is crammed with mementos from chef/owner Michael Casalinho’s household, who hail from the Leiria area of Portugal. The single chalkboard menu, scribbled with offerings that change nightly, is seen from most of the 40 seats. Broa’s gadgets are petiscos (analogous to Spanish tapas). They are scrumptious, from bean salads shiny with onion and olive oil to flaming platters of chorizo, garlicky shrimp, braised octopus and crispy fried sardines. Groups of five or more can attempt every part on the menu for $45 per individual. For dessert, have a creamy pasteis de nata, the basic Portuguese egg tart. On warm evenings, sit on the back patio beneath string lights. BYO. —SFG
297 Grove Street, 201-463-1467

Newark

For 30 years, Seabra’s has been a landmark in Newark’s Ironbound and a bastion of super-fresh seafood cooked in conventional Portuguese fashion. At lunch, it’s fun to hold with locals at the bar and schmooze over cockles in garlic sauce. Dining room hits embrace acorda de marisco, a bread stew loaded with seafood in a garlic-and-coriander sauce, all topped with a poached egg. The Portuguese wines are good and reasonably priced. —Rosie Saferstein
87 Madison Street, 973-465-1250

Hamilton

Christina Bonilla, 32, all the time dreamed of operating her personal restaurant and discovered to prepare dinner Puerto Rican dishes like picadillo from her grandmother, Delia. After incomes a culinary degree, she opened Buen Provecho (Spanish for bon appetit) in 2014 together with her father’s assist. Picadillo, spicy floor beef in tomato sauce, is here served with avocado. “Most of our Hispanic and Puerto Rican customers say our cooking reminds them of home,” she says. Other favorites embrace bistec encebollado (steak and green onions with avocado) and chipotle shrimp. In-demand desserts are piña colada upside-down cake and chocolate-pecan-coconut rum cake. BYO. —CC
1701 Hamilton Avenue, 609-981-7700

La Ponceña

New Brunswick

Eulalia Vargas Rivera and her husband, Esteban, opened La Ponceña (a person from Ponce) in 1975. Since Esteban’s demise in 2016, Eulalia and her youngsters have run the restaurant. “Many of our customers have been here for years,” says her son, Esteban Jr. “Some come on Fridays or Saturdays, when they know my sister will make her tilapia and red snapper, items not usually on the menu.” The largest sellers are braised hen, bacalao, oxtail and mofongo—fried, mashed plantains seasoned with salt, garlic and oil. Appetizers like alcapurrias—fritters made with plantain or cassava dough and full of floor beef—often sell out shortly. BYO. —CC
57 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, 732-249-3754

Vineland

Opened by Milagro “Milly” Juarez in 2013, Milly’s provides Mexican favorites: guacamole, tacos, burritos and sopes. But the pupusas, El Salvador’s most notable dish, are fantastic. The saucer-sized discs are handmade corn-flour tortillas full of cheese and pork or refried beans, served with tangy cabbage slaw, and are greatest with a wholesome hit of green scorching sauce. Sopa Azteca, a tortilla soup, is peppery and filling. BYO. —SV
602 East Chestnut Avenue, 856-405-0015

Photo courtesy of Casa d’Paco

Newark

Angel Leston and his father, Francisco, who goes by Paco, serve the food of their native Galicia, on the northwest coast of Spain. They opened their small restaurant, with Spanish wine record and sangrias, in 2015 in the Ironbound. The menu is coastal, together with a particular, soupy fashion of seafood paella and a marriage of seafood and tapas in the piquant chipirones da casa—grilled baby squid with grilled onions and cherry peppers. Angel’s mom, Ana, makes memorable desserts. —Julia Mullaney
73 Warwick Street, 862-307-9466

Cliffside Park

The Turgut family have been restaurateurs since the 1920s, beginning in Antep, Turkey. Ferda Turgut runs Hakki Baba together with her mother and father, siblings and nephew. (Hakki Baba was the nickname of the family’s first restaurateur.) The appetizer mixture platters (four or six gadgets) alone might make a advantageous and substantial meal, particularly for vegetarians. Choices embrace smoky baba ghanoush, spicy walnut-and-tomato spread, briny feta, thick labne and virtually a dozen other starters. Then make means for the kebabs: juicy hen, lamb or beef, central to Turkish cooking. Each comes with pilaf, over toasted pita, or on smoked eggplant and yogurt. BYO. —SFG
555 Anderson Avenue, 201-844-8444

East Brunswick, Marlboro

Apparently as useful with saws and sheetrock as with kitchen tools, house owners Jawad and Hina Malik and Adeel Siddiq reworked an previous pizzeria right into a soothing, scarlet sanctuary with hanging lanterns and billowy ceiling fabrics. Their goal was to create the feeling of a köy, Turkish for village, with meals to match. The plump zucchini pancakes referred to as mucver, with pink peppers and feta in garlic-yogurt sauce, make a nice introduction to the cuisine. The pomegranate salad, a mound of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and walnuts in a sweet-and-sour pomegranate dressing, is delicious beneath its bathe of pomegranate seeds. Köy’s grilled lamb chops over rice with a aspect salad is its signature entrée. There are two flaky baklavas: walnut and pistachio. BYO. —ED
647A Route 18, 732-955-6449; 280 Route 9 North, Marlboro, 732-792-3659

Manalapan

Uzbekistan—north of Afghanistan and south of Russia—is the house of plov, a aromatic, well-seasoned, golden pilaf with carrots, mounded with chunks of tender lamb and beef. It’s the Uzbek nationwide dish. Shirin’s small storefront, adorned with Central Asian collectible figurines and artwork, is packed and energetic on weekends, peaceable on weeknights. Shurpa is a standard Uzbek soup of lamb, beef and vegetables. Kutabi—pancakes full of either lamb and beef or with sautéed greens—come with a savory yogurt dipping sauce. Listed as a starter, it’s large enough for 2. Shirin also provides Russian and Armenian dishes. BYO. —ED
345 Route 9 South, 732-462-8585

Pho Ninh Kieu’s pho soup. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Parsippany

For about three years, the Huynh family has been turning out perfectly executed Vietnamese café cuisine. There are a number of kinds of bun (cool rice vermicelli tossed with salad, herbs, peanut and selection of grilled meats, crisp spring rolls or shrimp), intricate fried rice dishes and vegetable-forward stir-fries. Com dia are kind of the blue plate specials of Vietnam, served over couscous-like broken rice with fish sauce, cucumber and tomato. The star is com tam dac biet, which features a grilled pork chop, shredded pork and a slice of a quiche-like pork-noodle pie, all topped with a fried egg. The Huynhs are most pleased with their pho soup (left), aromatic and extra delicately flavored than most. BYO. —MA
73 New Road, 973-521-9900

Olaide’s Kitchen in Parlin. Clockwise from left: Amayase, a Nigerian stew, with efo elegusi with goat and a mound of jollof; proprietor Olaide Tella holds a plate of efo elegusi; a bowl of ila, an okra soup, with yams and stew. Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager

Parlin

After shifting to New Jersey from Lagos, Nigeria, in 1998, Olaide Tella worked as a licensed nurse assistant to help her young family. At the similar time she ran a West African catering firm out of her basement. In 2017, she opened Olaide’s Kitchen, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Her Nigerian and Ghanian specialties embrace jollof, rice cooked in tomato sauce; asaro, a yam porridge with sautéed fish; ila, plain okra soup served with a stew; amayase, an aromatic stew of green peppers and meat; efo elegusi, a green stew with kale and pumpkin seeds; and suya, beef skewers coated in a nutty spice blend. BYO. —SV
499 Ernston Road, 732-952-8880

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