Part of having a relatively unique ethnic background is that you grow up highly aware of anyone or anything also from that place of ethnic origin. For example, I can tell you that both Casey Kasem and Tony Shalhoub are Lebanese. I can also tell you that the current Miss USA, Rima Fakih is Lebanese, and I can tell you that she does not respond to fan mail, no matter how much Polo Sport you spray on the envelope. What also comes along with this heightened awareness, is that people tend to let me know any time a new Lebanese restaurant pops up in New York City, as was the case when Naya opened in Midtown East.
Here is the deal with Naya - the food is very good. People are friendly, the prices are fairly reasonable, and it’s a good option for a meal on this awful stretch of Second Avenue. But the layout and design of the restaurant is terrible. The space is about ten feet wide and looks like a high-end shower. We found ourselves enjoying the food quite a bit, but strangely uncomfortable at a table for two with bucket seats. It’s a place that isn’t “Perfect For” much, other than maybe Date Night, and that’s only if you’re both really into Lebanese food and the future. Which reminds me...time to write Rima another letter.
A large serving of excellent hummus. Clearly this needs to be on the table.
If you’ve never had labne, it’s essentially strained yogurt with some herbs, but is another condiment that you should order to eat with any and all meats that are in front of you
Large balls of fried meat with pine nuts, allspice, and more meat inside. These are tasty, and most likely, very unhealthy.
Little Jimmy Dean sausages made of lamb served in a bowl. These are decent, but we didn’t really need to have more than one or two. I think there were twenty in the bowl.
An excellent lamb kebab with Lebanese rice and vegetables. Order this.