Hermanto Jong has moved from uptown Manhattan to downtown Huntington with skills as sharp as his knives.
The chef, a 10-year veteran of the Nobu empire, artfully brings together the tastes of Peru and Japan at ASA, a new and distinctive dining room in a highly competitive quarter. There's nothing quite like it, even with a trio of Japanese restaurants nearby.
Serene in design and subtle in cuisine, the mood is interrupted only by background music that's sometimes suited more for a club. But, from the pressed-metal ceiling that evokes another time to the of-the-moment artwork, ASA is restrained, stylish, handsome in its own way. Lina Jong, Hermanto's wife, oversees the place and serves the food, too.
Start with the tart, elegantly plated tiradito of fluke with peppery, spicy sauce or with dried miso. Taste the lightly blackened tuna in a minty, pungent huacatay green sauce. Definitely sample the vibrant ceviche of mixed seafood. And be tempted by the house's fragile tacos, with tuna, salmon and yellowtail finished with tomatillo salsa.
Chicharrones of rock shrimp deliver some crunch and fine flavor, as do the excellent, pan-fried beef dumplings with sesame-seasoned ponzu sauce. Complement them with the juicy little sausage sliders. ASA offers marinated and grilled anticuchos, especially fine with shrimp and scallops. There's no grilled beef heart, a Peruvian staple, but you will find a superior, sliced rib-eye.
Squid "pasta" with garlic sauce is a satisfactory union of calamari and vegetables. Cauliflower with jalapeño salsa: overdone. Miso black cod, while respectable, is routine compared with so many alternatives. Jalea, here similar to tempura, arrives with enough crunch. The sweet potato, eggplant and shrimp jalea are best.
But ASA peaks with the chef's choice main course of sushi. A recent sampler included a quintet of uncooked fish, among them, maguro tuna, white tuna, yellowtail, salmon and fluke, dabbed with sesame aioli, sweet miso, chimichurri, tomatillo salsa and frizzled onion -- all outstanding. If fatty tuna is available, ask for it unadorned. The cylindrical, multi-ingredient sushi rolls generally are recommended, too.
ASA's cooked seafood is led by a special of crisp soft-shell crab paired with watermelon and jalapeño pepper that's refreshing and slightly spicy; and toasty salmon sauced with pisco and sweet soy.
Desserts are few. Maybe caramelized banana or molten-center chocolate cake. But Herrell's Ice Cream is next door; Ben & Jerry's, around the block.
Visit ASA -- ASAP.