GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT
When it's this intense outside, I think about the folk wisdom of fighting fire with fire. In that spirit, here are three mega-hot dishes to light you up and cool you down:
At Southern Spice in New Hyde Park, which serves the cuisine of the Chettinad region of Southern India, the appetizer called chicken 65 ($10) is a real firecracker. It's made with spice-marinated boneless white meat cubes sauteed with three different peppers. Southern Spice is at 1635 Hillside Ave., New Hyde Park, 516-216-5448.
The Penang chicken curry at Thai Angel ($14.95) in Islandia is done with homegrown chilies. Order it "Thai hot" and prepare to have your world shaken. Thai Angel is at 1812 Veterans Hwy., Islandia, 631-348-2555.
Almost everything is pleasingly palate-searing at Yao's Diner, a hyper-authentic Northern Chinese restaurant in Centereach. Try the sauteed sliced chicken with chili and peppers ($6.95), chunks of poultry fried to a crunch and heaped with killer red chilies. Yao's Diner, 2503 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-588-2218. -- JOAN REMINICK
Used to be that the tail on your whole grilled fish almost reached into the plate of the person sitting at the table next to you at Turquoise. But now the sliver of a restaurant has moved from its tiny digs across from the Great Neck train station into a spacious spot on Middle Neck Road, the village's main drag.
The relocated restaurant, which took over the space of the once-popular Classico, is airy, with white cutout leather seats and a revolving chandelier over the bar. And while the location and decor are new, the fish-centric menu is the same. "We've had the same five chefs cooking for over 10 years,'' says owner Erica Babushkin.
And what good fish those loyal cooks turn out. A grilled red St. Peter's fish was plump with crispy skin and moist meat at a recent dinner. Ditto for the branzino. Also offered as whole fish preparations: Black St. Peter's, red tilapia, sea bass, dorade and striped bass, all about $30 to $32. An array of fillets, from flounder to salmon to tuna, is also on the menu, all between $26 and $32. The big bonus: gratis dishes of homemade green tahini, baba ganoush, tzatziki and pickled vegetables. They don't get better than this.
There are a few meat dishes, such as grilled lamb chops and rib-eye steak, but fish and Mediterranean salads rule. At lunch, there is a $15 price-fixed offering.
Turquoise, 76 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-487-3737 -- MARJORIE ROBINS
Recently departed from the Amityville food front is Star Fish Book Cafe, a homey little Amityville eatery with a Christian bookstore and an evening music scene.
The Buccaneer Crab House in Freeport, which was housed in an old manse on Montauk Highway, is closed.