4887 Merrick Rd, Massapequa Park
Is Sunakkuba, a small storefront that opened in late February along Merrick Road in Massapequa Park, the only Japanese fusion restaurant on Long Island? And what exactly is Japanese fusion? No doubt there will be a zillion answers to the fusion question, but there should be no confusion about Sunakkuba itself. It’s not just another copycat Japanese restaurant with a standard, unimaginative menu. Attentive service, artistic, eye-catching presentations, generosity and inspired dishes mark it as a keeper.
Even before ordering, Sunakkuba (meaning “snack bar”) gives off positive vibes. Complimentary sweet potato chips and warm wet towels set the stage for what’s to come. Moving beyond the amenities, the BYOB Sunakkuba lays claim to its fusion designation with the likes of Cajun shrimp ($7), tuna tacos ($10), tuna tortilla ($12), salmon or tuna pizza ($13), BBQ pork bun ($7), pizza sandwich ($14) and a yellowtail jalapeno roll ($5). These cross-cultural combinations aren’t just gimmicks designed to be noticed for their shock value. Among them are some of the most outstanding dishes on the menu. That intriguing tuna tortilla for instance, is a large pizza-shaped picture perfect presentation with a flower at its center that yields eight red, green and golden triangles of tuna, guacamole and jalapeno with a drizzle of aioli. The tuna taco with similar ingredients is its equal.
Among the other recommended dishes is the tender, grease free, deep-fried soft shell crab appetizer in an exotic “special” sauce ($9) and the soothing soft shell crab mango salad ($10). The tricolor sushi bar entrée is also excellent, consisting of tuna, salmon and yellowtail in three spicy, crunchy rolls. (It is preceded by the standard miso soup and a salad.) A seaweed salad ($5) is also above average as was a super fresh mound of seafood salad harboring tuna, salmon, octopus and shrimp topped with crunchy mixed greens and masago mantle and dressed with a soy-onion concoction ($10). Every roll sampled delivered admirable, fresh, clean flavor. Especially sublime are the bite-size spheres in the creamy, crunchy oozy Massapequa roll. It’s a mesh of cream cheese, shrimp tempura and cucumber crowned with avocado, masago and spicy tuna ($14). Vegetarians will enjoy the Thai-tilted red paddy roll, a mix of red rice, sweet potato, peanut and avocado spiked with sweet chili sauce ($8).
Less impressive are the four run-of-the-mill desserts (three ice creams and tempura cheesecake, from $3 to $5). Also underwhelming was naruto. It is hollowed out slices of cucumber stuffed with a difficult to discern smidgen of avocado and tuna, salmon or yellowtail ($9). Remember too that Sunakkuba is a snack bar, not a full-fledged restaurant. After the soup, salad and appetizers, the menu consists mainly of rolls (classic, cooked, healthy and special), sushi and sashimi.
Limitations aside, the new Sunakkuba is a little gem with a veteran staff, including an experienced chef, Carlos Jimenez (from the highly regarded Kotobuki in Babylon) and a sharp, quick waiter, Ken Santiago from Shiro of Japan in Carle Place. Add Kenny Chen, a knowledgeable owner and two heavyweight sushi chefs—Alan Widinto and Aung Niang—and you have an impressive aggregation. Chef Jimenez often offers free samples of ingredients to interested diners and the waiter keeps a parade of clean plates and extra napkins coming.
Finally there is the accurate and revealing comment of a departing diner who said, “I’m often hungry after eating at a Japanese restaurant, but not here.”
Photo by Pam Deutchman / thefphoto.com