Address: 1057 2nd Ave. New York, NY
Ok. So the first thing you probably noticed is the picture and how crazy looking the restaurant is. It’s like an upscale shotgun house. Or a long hallway out of some David Lynch movie if David Lynch ever had a movie with long hallways. It’s really cool looking and I feel like they wanted it to be unique and use a small space, but guess what, it’s kind of uncomfortable. One finds themselves thinking, “this is weird, I feel like I’m eating in a strange space pod where everyone is lined up in front and behind me having parallel two person dinners.” What if I want to eat dinner with three people? It’s already an awkward enough number but now they have to either squeeze in on one side or what? Really throwing my equilibrium off here. In Naya’s defense they have a room in the back with a bigger table. I only saw one bigger table. Maybe there’s more.
Anyways, onto the more important issue, the food. I’m always on the lookout for good Lebanese food being Lebanese and all, and this my friends was good Lebanese food. It’s worth foregoing the weird space vibe to eat there because it is delicious and the service is excellent. Additionally, there is a Naya Express if you just want the food and none of the spaceship. Lebanese people (aka all of the wait staff) are just so funny. They’re so friendly and love to make jokes. Despite the not homey vibe of the restaurant, I heard wait staff asking guests how their kids were and the likes. Clearly some repeat patronage happening.
Hommus: Ok, I am not a hummus expert, in fact, I have very little authority on hummus. I usually buy my hummus from Trader Joes. I also enjoy the free samples Sabra gives out on the reg around Union Square. This aside, I did not love this hummus. It didn’t do it for me. I don’t know. The pita was delish though.
Sojuk: This was good, it was veritably different from the Sojuk I ate in Turkey regularly. For one it came in a different form like a link sausage and it was a much deeper red color. Perhaps this is because it came with stewed tomatoes while I’m used to eating it with egg for breakfast. It was satisfactory, but next time I’ll try the fried Kibbe.
Kafta Kebob: This was freaking delicious. The kafta (meatballs) were awesome and the rice. Oh my lord the rice. I could eat bowls upon bowls of this rice. I don’t get how they make it because it’s like infused with a perfect buttery taste and I try to make it at home and it doesn’t work. I’m serious, I would go there and just order rice. I have cravings for this rice. I’m probably crazy, but this is a good dish overall.
And then the waiters brought us more food we didn’t order. So here is the aftermath and I will unpack the other items.
Sojuk Pastry: This is not the real name of the thing. But as you can see in the picture it was like an egg roll but it was filled with sojuk (sausage) and cheese. This was so freaking good. I would have this as an appetizer any day. My heart was literally breaking because I was already so full and there were four of them on the plate and I wanted to eat them all. But my little body couldn’t do it.
Olive and Sauce platter: My friend Caroline loved the olives and ate them all. I on the other hand was really into this black sesame sauce, it was kind of like a weird black sesame helva that you eat with homemade pita chips. It was really awesome. I’m sorry I don’t know what it’s called. That’s what happens when you don’t order it and it just shows up.
So how I feel about Naya is this: the food is good, the service is awesome, the space is weird and probably not good for groups. The mood lighting is intense so maybe take a date, but not a first date, or go with a friend, but just one friend. OR just go to Naya express. Either way, get the rice.