Whether you observe the Jewish laws of kashrut or simply view life as one giant flavor quest, Ahuva's Grill, a glatt kosher restaurant in Hewlett, beckons. Here, chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites and soothes the palate with a compelling repertoire of Yemenite Israeli dishes.
Gratis dips, served with warm pita, change regularly. Past highlights include a lively cabbage salad and an herb-flecked egg salad. A must is an appetizer combination platter that includes a first-rate hummus, or chickpea dip; babaganoush, or eggplant salad; tabbouleh, or cracked wheat and parsley salad and bright herbal falafel, or fried chickpea balls. Not to be missed is a side order of warm lafah, a flaky, house-made bread I find preferable to the heavier whole-wheat kubbaneh.
My bowl of savory Yemeni chicken soup contained about a quarter chicken. A rich lentil soup, ignited by a dash of Yemeni hot sauce, was equally satisfying. But the kitchen was off when it sent out a burned, oily pancake called malawach, minus its promised accompaniments of hard-boiled egg, hot sauce and crushed tomatoes.
A hot appetizer of kibbe -- three crisp, delectable fried ground beef balls -- amounted to a carnivore's version of falafel. Shakshuka -- poached eggs in a spicy-sweet tomato sauce -- would make an ideal brunch dish, especially with a side of lafah.
Because the restaurant doesn't yet have a rotisserie, a flat-top grill was used to make the shawarma, highly seasoned turkey strips grilled with onions. It worked well with grilled vegetables and a side of house-made sweet potato fries. Fluffy steamed Israeli couscous with chicken featured whole, bone-in pieces of boiled chicken. Good, but I would have preferred a crisper-skinned bird. A thorough success, though, was the kaufta kebab, spiced ground beef sausages that oozed when cut. Juicy, too, was baby chicken shish kebab, boneless marinated dark meat with a side of rice and grilled vegetables.
A dessert surprise was an appealingly bittersweet store-bought chocolate souffle cake. I hear that a house-made chocolate souffle may soon debut at this ambitious new spot.