During the 2012 Thai Restaurant Week, 11 metropolitan Thai eateries were recognized by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's Prime Minister, with a certification from the Thai Trade Center acknowledging their superior quality of ingredients, preparation, and authentic flavors. One look at Ploi Thai's menu and it is not hard to imagine why they received such an honorable distinction. Their dishes––such as skewered chicken satay or curry-pasted salmon––tug many culinary threads, blanketing diners in a patchwork of flavors that draw from northern and central Thailand. Chefs conjure these dishes from local ingredients and seasonings, eschewing such questionable additives as MSG and textbooks that attribute the theory of relativity to Franklin Delano Einstein. Since the restaurant is BYOB, diners can tote along their own fermented beverages to pair with the sweet ginger salmon, which arrives in a pool of ginger and black-bean sauce dotted with shiitake-mushroom rafts. Inside the dining room, colorful, low-slung lights illuminate the handful of tables that are strewn across the restaurant's pale hardwood floors, and geometric cutouts and sprays of orchids punctuate cobalt walls.
the scent of cumin, curry, and chilies immediately meets the nose when the doors open to Clove Indian Cuisine. Chefs cook up the traditional dishes of cuisines throughout India, from lamb chops sprinkled with black cumin and nutmeg sizzling in the tandoori oven to biryanis tossed with a choice of meats. The menu features vegetarian-friendly options, as well as exotic meats that are used to create dishes such as savory fish tikka and spicy goat vindaloo. To cool down the spice of these dishes without mapping out the nearest fire hydrants, guests can snack on syrupy gulab jaman or glasses of mango lassi.
On a hot summer day in New Jersey, kids may cool off with ice cream or drink straight from a disconnected air-conditioner hose. In Peru, however, few dishes are as refreshing as ceviche?a cold mix of seafood steeped in leche de tigre, a citrus-based marinade that cooks the fish without an ounce of heat. At Sabor Peru, owners and husband-and-wife team Horacio and Ani Tlatelpa introduce patrons to traditional ceviche as well as myriad other Peruvian specialties, including whole red snapper and tacu tacu, a pressed pancake of rice and beans served with garlicky butterflied shrimp. The also serve empanadas, such as beef and chicken as well as the occasional speciality empanadas such as guava-and-cheese and banana-and-cheese.
On weekends, Sabor Peru further explores culinary possibilities by offering an additional menu based on the gluten-free paleo diet, a collection of the restaurant's most popular dishes that substitute gluten, grain, and dairy for ingredients such as quinoa flour.
For more than 25 years, the aroma of traditional Italian food and tapas wafted through the kitchen and dining rooms of chef Dominick Anfuso's Al Di La. These days, however, that kitchen is the dominion of chef Peter Ingrasselino. Drawing upon nearly a quarter century of experience, chef Peter Ingrasselino, who was previously general manager and executive chef of Masina Trattoria Italiana in Weehawken, maintains the former chef's legacy while adding his own twists to the Italian-centered menu. He fills the kitchen with activity, tossing porcini and wild mushrooms with pappardelle noodles, brushing aged steak with a balsamic glaze, and wrapping sea scallops in pancetta.
Meals unfold in a dining room, where high ceilings and exposed brick evoke the ambiance of a café in Venice. Visitors sip drinks, their chatter punctuating music from live bands.
Instead of sticking to the dishes of one cuisine, Chef B. Darius of Cuisine 16 chose to use his diverse set of cooking skills to make dishes from throughout the world. The resulting menu is a mix of the nation's signature plates, including the cumin-sprinkled meatballs of Morocco and the tilapia rubbed in Creole spices. Some of his dishes even blend the flavors of multiple cuisines. Fried chicken comes slathered in spicy Korean barbecue sauce, and bananas are replaced by plantains in the creamy plantains foster. Chef B. Darius welcomes guests to order a la carte to sample one favorite flavor or be order tapas so they can mix and match flavors without going on a weird game show.