It had been nearly a decade since I’d last eaten at Nakisaki in Hempstead; the Jamaican-Chinese restaurant has been going strong the past 21 years. These days, its interior is looking quite spiffy, a spacious sunken dining room furnished with high-backed sofas and chairs attractively upholstered in tones of merlot and sand.
At lunch, a buffet was in progress in a separate and more casual dining space. Rather than going for the $8.69 all-you-can-eat deal, I ordered from the menu. Jerk chicken ($8, lunch, $14 dinner) featured bone-in skin-on pieces, fiery-sweet and irresistible. The same depth of flavor informed the fatty but delectable jerk pork, priced the same as the chicken. A lively goat curry ($8 lunch, $15 dinner) comprised tender chunks of meat in a subtly spicy sauce the color of butterscotch. On the side: very good rice and peas. Checking out the appetizing-looking buffet, afterward, I realized I probably would have eaten just as well had I gone with that option.
Although “Nakisaki” may sound Japanese, the restaurant's nomenclature was actually the nickname of its late founder, Earl Lyn, whose roots were in the Chinese community of Jamaica. These days, Lyn’s daughter, Deborah, is the restaurant’s general manager, his son, Paul, its owner. According to family matriarch and office manager Dorothy Lyn, chef Michael Luong commands the kitchen.
In addition to classic Jamaican and Chinese items, the menu features “fused” dishes, such as jerk tofu with vegetables ($11) and Naki lobster in the shell ($22), which Dorothy Lyn said is cooked Chinese-style but served with a Jamaican coconut sauce.
Nakisaki is at 276 Fulton Ave., Hempstead 516-292-9200\
Pictured above, clockwise from bottom center: Curried goat, jerk chicken, rice and peas and jerk pork at Nakisaki, Hempstead