Like A Sultan At Huntington’s Sitar
Pete and Will/ email@example.com
When George Harrison discovered the Sitar
during the early 1970s, he introduced an exotic sound to the
music world – at least outside of India. But in fact,
the three-stringed, long-necked instrument has been a centerpiece
of Indian music since ancient times and to nearly a billion
people in that country, is as familiar as a comfortable shoe.
It makes Sitar the perfect name for what could well be considered
the capital of Indian cuisine in Huntington, for the richly
spiced food that is familiar to a large portion of the world’s
population is considered exotic in these parts.
Sitar’s owners Payal and Rajiv Sharma just may change
that. The couple who took over restaurant nine years ago and
have earned a strong following among those who know Indian
cuisine, and attracted newcomers to the Indian experience
as well. Previously Akbar, Sitar is housed in what was at
one time a Chinese restaurant. Skillful architectural touches
adequately disguise the restaurant’s pagoda features,
and inside, the transformation is made complete by the devotion
to authentic Indian cuisine.
Even newcomers to the cuisine are made immediately comfortable
by the décor with its subdued lighting, warm ochre
walls and high-backed banquettes. Little touches – like
the small pillows on each banquette – make diners feel
It’s the food that keeps them coming back. Sitar’s
menu offerings are skillfully prepared, artfully presented
and in many ways, surprising. At manager Pali Wijebandara’s
suggestion, our culinary journey began with a sampling of
appetizers. Sitar’s new menu features traditional Indian
cuisine and – by popular demand – the new Pan
Asian cuisine. Both offered delightful surprises with unexpected
combinations and skillful pairings of hot and cool, sweet
and sour, and just plain exciting spices. On the traditional
side, Chicken Malai Kabab’s ($8) toasted spice chicken
was nicely complemented by a mint sauce; while the tandoori-grilled
Chicken Tongri Kabab ($8) was gamier in flavor. Lollipop Shrimp
($8), a bouquet of panko-crusted shrimp on skewers, was memorable
for its citrusy mint dipping sauce; while the Garlic Shrimp
($8) enjoyed the freshness of cilantro. However, the star
appetizer was the Crab Cake selection ($10), a tummy-warming
blend of spices with hints of lime and a sweet Wasabi sauce.
With such a symphony of spices, we were grateful to have the
bread basket ($9), an assortment of onion kulcha, garlic basil
naan and laccha parantha. Delicious in their own right, the
breads are served with a cool yogurt sauce for dipping that
helped our taste buds recover between entrees.
The menu runs the gamut. Traditional curries are an excellent
choice for Indian food purists. The Lamb Roganjosh ($17),
served with basmati rice, featured tender marinated lamb in
the classic cardamom sauce. The traditional menu includes
lamb and goat, chicken and shrimp dishes. We were tempted
by Lobster Makhani ($25) – lobster in a saffron cream
On the Pan Asian side, Pan Fried Crispy Noodles (vegetable
$11; chicken $14; shrimp $17) were surprisingly nutty and
mellow, and the Ginger Basil Chicken ($15) was sweet with
a spicy “after-kick” that sent us diving for that
yogurt sauce. Seafood is prominent on Pan Asian menus, and
the Tamarind Glazed Tilapia ($16) swims with the best of them.
A sweet and sour sauce outside, and fresh vegetables on the
side, they’re beautifully presented.
Vegetarians are well served at Sitar. Gobi Manchurian ($11)
is a battered crunchy cauliflower wrapped in chili, garlic
and ginger sauce; Thai flavored vegetable curry ($11) is flavored
with lemongrass and galangal; and Vegetable Shaslik ($13)
is where veggies meet grill.
Sides, salads and soups round out a menu so packed with choices
its difficult making up one’s mind. Fortunately, we
had the guidance of Pali, whose insistence that we try at
least one dessert resulted in the tummy-warming Chocolate
Lava Cake ($6), a not-too-sweet, warm chocolate treat topped
with a pyramid of ice cream. All of the desserts are prepared
by Payal, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who said
her passion is cooking. The Dessert Sampler ($14) is an excellent
way to sample her Tiramisu, Mango Mousse and Coconut Ginger
Sitar has recently introduced an $8 lunch special (Monday
through Saturday 12 – 3 p.m.) with a buffet on Fridays.
There’s live entertainment Fridays (music, 7 –
9:30 p.m.) and Saturdays (astrologer, palm reader, 7 –
Visit. Eat, Enjoy. You’ll leave feeling like a sultan.
665 West Jericho Turnpike,
Cuisine: Authentic Indian and
Atmosphere: Exotic but
Hours: Open seven days from noon.
Lunch Special: Mon-Sat, noon - 3p.m.
Buffet lunch on Friday.
Sunday lunch buffet, noon - 3p.m.
Sunday dinner buffet, 4:30 - 9:30p.m.