Located just off of Darby Road in Havertown, Kaya's Fusion Cuisine provides an intimate dining atmosphere and high quality, creative food.
Kaya's is owned and operated by Michael and Jessica Hawthorne, who named the restaurant after their 4-year-old daughter. The couple makes it a point to use fresh, local food, and many of their menu ingredients come from the Oakmont Farmers Market and other local vendors, according to Kaya's Web site.
After arriving at 6 p.m. on a Thursday evening, we were seated right away and handed menus to peruse. The fine dining restaurant is fairly small, comprising one main dining room with 14 tables.
Modern décor and candlelight create a warm, chic ambiance, further amplified by the friendly and genuine service we received during our visit. I, and my dining companion, appreciated that the restaurant lacked the usual din—meaning that you're able to hear the person across from you without shouting.
Kaya's menu—which changes seasonally—is fairly small, comprising 10 entrees, four starters, and six other dishes. As Kaya's is an American fusion restaurant, each menu item combines techniques and ingredients from diverse culinary traditions.
Entrees (which range from $17 to $26) include grilled pork chop served with sweet potato mash, bacon apple chutney and black currant infused balsamic vinegar, and edamame gnocchi with shiitake mushrooms, truffle oil and lemon sauce. Almost all dishes can be adjusted to the diner's preferences, according to the menu.
Each day, Kaya's chef also creates a variety of special dishes, which our server recited to us after handing us our menus. We decided to order one of the specials as our appetizer: white fish crustini with gorgonzola, watercress and balsamic reduction ($10).
While waiting for our appetizer, we enjoyed a loaf of fresh, homemade bread served with a wonderful garlic and herb butter and a strawberry butter, both made in house.
Our white fish crustini, which consisted of four small pieces of crustini, arrived beautifully plated. However, my dining companion and I were both unsure of how we felt about it: the ingredients were definitely fresh, but the flavors seemed to be fighting each other for attention.
Our entrees, on the other hand, were both excellent. It should be noted that as Kaya's is a fine dining restaurant, their entrée portions are on the smaller side: an entrée portion really is a single serving, unless you aren't all that hungry.
That said, I had ordered the pan-seared duck breast, served with gruyere polenta, caramelized onions, sour cherry and pinot noir demiglace ($23). The duck was well-seasoned, cooked as ordered, and was a perfect match for the demiglace. The polenta had a nice, mild flavor and complemented the duck well without overwhelming it.
My dining companion ordered the pan-seared salmon filet with mango ginger glaze, served with rice noodles, blood orange infused olive oil, and carrot and cucumber pesto ($19). The olive oil and mango ginger glaze gave the salmon a bright flavor without overshadowing the taste of the fish. The rice noodles fell a little flat when eaten alone, but made a great foil for the salmon.
Finally, we ordered Kaya's chocolate chip cheesecake—which, the waitress informed us, was featured in the Best of Philly 2009. The cheesecake was fluffier in texture than I'd expected and somewhat mild in taste: good, but not our favorite part of the meal.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience at Kaya's, which would make a great place for a date or a meal with friends. The warm ambiance was inviting, our service was prompt, helpful and friendly, the meal was well-paced, and the food was delicious. And, what makes it even better is knowing that Kaya's is committed to seeking out local vendors for their food whenever possible.
Kaya's is located at 5 Brookline Blvd. in Havertown, and is open 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and open 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.