It would be too simple to describe Indiya as an Indian restaurant. After all, India is a vast nation with large metropolitan areas, small towns, and everything in between, encompassing hundreds of local cuisines. In this spirit, Chef Vipul Bhasin draws inspiration from India's 28 culinary regions to create a diverse menu celebrating the country's full spectrum of flavors. On any given day, he fires up the tandoori oven to grill tangy chicken kebabs, bake garlic naan bread, and char-grill jumbo shrimps. Away from the clay oven, Chef Bhasin crafts curries and vegetarian specialties such as Paneer Makhani: homemade cheese cubes simmered in a tomato-honey sauce.
At Osaka, your food might emerge from any of three locales. The first is the sushi bar, where chefs assemble creative maki rolls or drape slices of tuna, salmon, or striped bass over small mounds of sticky rice. Then there's the kitchen, where a separate crew fires up the grill to create sizzling entr?es of tofu, salmon, and chicken teriyaki. And speaking of grills, perhaps the most popular options here can be found at the hibachi tables. Seated around hot teppanyaki grills, guests watch as chefs prepare their meals right before their eyes, slicing and searing meats and doling out the exact amount of rice grains each person prefers.
With outposts in Moorestown, Voorhees, and Collingswood, Akira is one of New Jersey's go-to spots for sushi, noodles, and grilled hibachi meals. Chefs behind the sushi bar expertly assemble rice, fresh fish, and vegetables into maki rolls and hand rolls, while their counterparts behind the hibachi grill put on a performance for diners by searing meats and seafood. The hibachi side of the restaurant gets lively with conversation and jumping flames, making it a festive venue for group dinners and pyromancer parties.
Though his dishes once occupied the white-linen tablecloths of Philadelphia’s finest restaurants, Chef Gerald Dougherty now prefers making napkins messy with his signature recipes of rich, meaty barbecue fare. The former head chef of L'Aigla D'Or and Founders at the Bellevue, Chef Gerald currently oversees the pit at Little Louie's BBQ, a casual eatery he opened to satisfy his hankering for down-home grub. Not one to color within the lines, he draws on barbecue styles from across the country—think North Carolina, Kansas City, and Memphis—and smokes his meats over cherrywood, applewood, and hickory chips.
Little Louie’s dining room betrays the same down-home inspirations as its menu. Rustic lumber lines the countertops, and light fixtures reminiscent of branches illuminate the expansive space. If they can peel their eyes away from the beef brisket and pulled pork on their plates, guests will notice Butch Cassidy and Lone Ranger posters hanging from the walls, classic Western movies playing on the 70-inch flat-screen television, and outlaws discreetly taking down Wanted signs that bear their uncanny resemblances.
Tall stalks of bamboo flank Woksabi’s front doors, welcoming patrons into a modern space with exposed brick, dark wood, and accent lights that radiate hues of marigold and cobalt blue. Sleek tables support sizzling parades of lobster, filet mignon, shrimp, salmon, and veggies, kissed by the flames of a hibachi grill or drizzled in teriyaki sauce. In addition to searing hibachi dinners and piling plates with noodle favorites such as spicy pad thai, chefs impress diners seated at the sushi bar by slicing and wrapping fresh ingredients into rolls that range from the common california roll to the Perfect Match, a sweet and salty creation named in reference to Captain and Tennille.
Indian cuisine made with seasonal ingredients and an American flair.
When to Go: Swing by on a Thursday night if you fancy live sitar and tabla music, but go any other night if you prefer humming your own tunes while you chew.
Inside Tip: The restaurant is BYOB, so pick up your favorite bottle of wine or six-pack of beer before dinner.
Chaat: savory Indian snack food made of potatoes, fried bread, and a spice medley that typically includes dried mango powder, cumin seeds, and black salt.
Paneer: a fresh cheese made from boiling cow's milk or water buffalo's milk and curdling it with whey—the dish dates back to at least 6,000 BC.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Test your crafting skills at All Fired Up (602 Haddon Avenue), a studio devoted to paint-your-own pottery.
After: See what's happening at the Scottish Rite Auditorium (315 White Horse Pike), a historic 1930s venue that hosts musical acts and theater performances.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: If you're in Philly for the evening, head to Indeblue's sister location (205 S. 13th Street).