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Ethnic restaurants open on Christmas Day

The Frank Roll is a sushi specialty served

The Frank Roll is a sushi specialty served at Merrick Sushi Bar & Tea restaurant in Merrick. (March 6, 2010) Photo Credit: Michael Falco

Christmas Day, a quiet time for many Long Island restaurants, is hardly a silent one. Nassau and Suffolk are flush with ethnic places open and ready to serve.

Options are diverse and intriguing: Thai, Indian, Afghani, Persian and Japanese restaurants. Pan-Asian ones, too. And don't forget the old-fashioned Jewish deli.

NASSAU

AZERBAIJAN GRILL

2320 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow, 516-644-2200 and 1610 Old Country Rd., Westbury 516-228-0001, azerbaijangrill.com.

Turkish, Persian and Mediterranean influences prevail at these two gracious mid-Nassau dining spots. Hits include the smoky babaghanoush, flaky spinach pie, the jujeh kebab with bone-in pieces of juicy grilled Cornish hen, and the stew of the day.

Open: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

MERRICK SUSHI BAR & TEA

2171 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-868-0882, sushiandtea.com

In addition to its regular menu of raw and cooked Japanese specialties, this hospitable sushi-centered spot will serve each table a complimentary sushi bar appetizer. Menu recommendations include the tuna and salmon tartare, the spicy fish "Frank" roll and crisp chicken tempura.

Open: 3:30 to 9:30 p.m.

HAIKU ASIAN BISTRO

8025 Jericho Tpke. Woodbury, 516-584-6782, haikuasianbistro.com

A sophisticated spot for well-priced -- and spiced -- Asian dishes. Recommended dishes include a superior wonton soup, jalapeño-topped yellowtail drizzled with yuzu sauce, Malaysian red curry and Chinese lettuce wraps.

Open: noon to 10 p.m.

CHOOPAN GRILL

15 W. Marie St., Hicksville, 516-681-8818 and 1310 Middle Country Rd., Selden, 631-696-1817

These two Afghani restaurants specialize in the comfort food from a harsh terrain. Dishes to savor: aushak and mantoo (leek or chicken stuffed dumplings), Qabulipalow (lamb shank under raisin-carrot rice), chicken tandoori and fish kebab.

Open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

TRADITIONS EATERY

302 Central Ave., Lawrence, 516-295-3630, traditionskosher.com

At this newly redecorated kosher deli, you'll probably want to start with a bowl of old-fashioned matzoh ball soup. Then comes the hard decision: pastrami on rye or house-pickled corned beef. There's also tongue, brisket and roast beef.

Open: Noon to 10 p.m.

SUFFOLK

KURABARN JAPANESE RESTAURANT

479 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-673-0060, kurabarn.com.

In a lovely old house sparely decorated with contemporary art, you'll find fresh, carefully crafted sushi and sashimi dishes as well as traditional Japanese favorites, like tempura and teriyaki. The place has been around more than 30 years for good reason.

Open: 5 to 9 p.m.

SINGHA THAI

74 Farmingdale Rd., West Babylon, 631-669-8200.

Modest in appearance only, this little strip mall Thai spot features big, bold flavors. There's major gratification in the chicken coconut soup, drunken noodles, grilled salmon with Thai spices and Penang chicken curry, among other items.

Open: 1 to 10 p.m.

J&C 68 RESTAURANT

654 Horseblock Rd., Farmingville, 631-736-6688.

Although this is technically a Chinese-Japanese restaurant, you would be hard-pressed to find better Cantonese, Hunan or Sichuan food nearby. Wonton soup features delicate dumplings in savory broth; diced chicken with peanuts is a classic done right. Good sushi, too.

Open: Noon to 10 p.m.

RAGA

130 Old Town Rd., East Setauket, 631-689-7242, ragali.com

The setting is suave and sophisticated, the Indian cuisine, augmented by a few "fusion" dishes, skillfully executed. Just a few favorites: bhel puri, an Indian street snack made with crisped rice, the tandoori chicken wings and chili-spiked chicken Lukhnawi.

Open: 11:30 to 3 p.m.; 5 to 10 p.m.

ZAN'S KOSHER DELI

135 Alexander Ave., Lake Grove, 631-979-8770

No question, this popular spot rules the Suffolk deli scene with its house-cured meats and hand-cut fries. An inspired creation is the PLT -- pastrami, lettuce and tomato -- which gives the traditional BLT a run for the money.

Open: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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