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Credit to: Ken Lee

As a native Long Islander we fortunately have the reputation of having the best bagels in the world (damn right) but on the flip side of the coin we aren’t necessarily known for our restaurants as a lot of people think all we are is chains.  The latter part of that statement couldn’t be more false as there are a ton of amazing local eateries for anyone to divulge in when they visit or live in Long Island.  One of these great examples is the brand spanking new Kenta located right on Walt Whitman Road in Melville.  Only being opened for about two months, the location is smack dab in the heart of Melville and a short drive away from the famous Walt Whitman Mall which has gone through quite the dramatic improvement in recent years.  Kenta is run by brothers Joseph and James Ragonese, the latter is the front of the house guy who has worked with some of Long Island’s best restaurants for years now.  Running the kitchen in style is up and coming chef Jason Lee, who definitely left a culinary mark on me and my friend upon our exit.

Kenta, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Kenta LI

This is perfect location for many different reasons.  It is great for the business area of Melville for your colleagues to get together for some after work drinks or appetizers, yet also has a family friendly atmosphere that you can adapt to as well.  It has a relaxed and cool vibe to it that my friend and I dug immediately upon arrival.  We knew we were in for a treat ahead.

Kenta, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Kenta LI

Now to the food, which was nothing short of spectacular.  Kenta provided us with a copious amount of options to try, and needless to say they were all fantastic in one way or another.  The Modern Asian Cuisine aspect really was felt throughout the entire meal, as classic met modern in many different ways. So let’s start off with their variety of appetizers.  Kenta has both cold and hot appetizers you can try from, which is great balance to begin.  For the cold, I would recommend The Tuna Poke as the tuna was sliced fresh and really paired well with the avocado, sriracha, scallion and lime-ginger soy. For the Hot Appetizers, the word Kobe seemed to keep coming up as they prepared the delicious beef in two different ways.  One was in meatball form with a sweet glaze, wasabi aioli and a fresh crostini to dip into the latter two.  Something that I thought was fantastic about these was that the wasabi was not overpowering.  Wasabi itself can be quite a lot to take in for people who are spicy-sensitive yet instead of it taking over your taste buds you are left with a simple amount that tastes really deliciously with the meatball itself.  The other way they prepared the Kobe is in a slider with a Kalbi marinade with a spicy garlic aioli.  These sliders do not need any ketchup as the marinade does the work for it.  Perfect bite.   A third bite I would try out before diving into the main courses is the Satay, otherwise known as Chicken Yakitori.  The sauce in the Satay was unique in its flavoring and went really well with the chicken itself.

Kenta, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Kenta LI

I have had my good share of delicious sushi, however the sushi that we experienced at Kenta was far and beyond fantastic.  If you are going to a place like this, it is foolish to avoid getting sushi as they have a ton of classic and special rolls that they provide.  Two that I would go with is what they call The Gracious Balance.  This delight of a roll consists of deep fried eel, mango, avocado and lemon yuzu on the inside and spicy rock shrimp and scallions on the outside.  All of that flavoring put into one really made for eight incredible bites.  No soy sauce needed.  The other is their Island Roll which consists of coconut shrimp and mango on the inside and grilled kani, wasabi aioli and mango sauce on the outside.  Similar eating experience to The Gracious Balance in terms of flavor explosions in your mouth.  Highly recommended.

Kenta, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Kenta LI

When it comes to the main entrees, it is good to have a side dish like their chicken or pork fried rice to compliment whatever you are eating.  It comes with asparagus, scallion and a fried egg on top that adds to the depth of flavor it comes in.  As for the main courses, it runs the gamut however I would try their Miso Chilean Sea Bass and Spicy Jumbo Prawns. Different flavors for sure, however the sea bass and prawns were both cooked perfectly with the right amount of spice on both of them.  Top notch deliciousness.

Don’t just take my word for it though.  If you are ever in the Melville area and need a place to wine, dine and have fun… check out Kenta.  Worth the trip in my opinion.  Want to know more about Kenta?  Check out their official site.  Happy eating everyone.