Finding an ethnic restaurant that doesn't "dumb down" its cooking to what's perceived as American taste can be a challenge.
Here are three restaurants where you stand a better- than-average chance of eating as though you were born to the cuisine:
TAQUERIA MEXICO Much of the clientele at this little taqueria has roots in Mexico. Here, you'll find delicate, delectable stuffed house-made tortillas. Best are the toothsome tongue, the subtly fiery tacos de longaniza, or Mexican spicy sausage, and crisp carnitas, fried pork, all topped with cilantro and chopped onion. 709 E. Main St., Riverhead, 631-208-2902
SOUTHERN SPICE This South Indian transplant from Flushing specializes in fiery and nuanced Chettinad regional cookery. Try the chicken vindaloo and the vegetable uthappam, a pancake-like variation on the South Indian dosa. 1635 Hillside Ave., New Hyde Park, 516-216-5448, southernspice.net
SRIPRAPHAI The L.I. offshoot of the Woodside temple of authentic Thai cuisine offers an array of dishes spiced to specifications. Recommendations: larb, or pork with mint, chili and lime, barbecued pork tenders, crisp Chinese watercress with chicken, shrimp and squid, and papaya salad with dry shrimp and peanuts. 280 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, 516-280-3779, sripraphairestaurant.com