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Kaya’s jumbo lump crab cakes (Photo by Heidi Reuter)Located in the revamped Havertown space formerly occupied by Carmine’s and Johnny K’s, Kaya’s Fusion Cuisine—named after the daughter of husband-and-wife team Michael and Jessica Hawthorne—is an intimate, funky, friendly neighborhood spot with sophisticated global flair. Featuring local ingredients from nearby Oakmont Farmers Market, the lively menu delivers culinary intrigue void of the sort of pretension that repels fusion newbies. Highlights include the panko-crusted calamari; spring mix with roasted peppers, avocado and couscous, rolled maki-style and topped with goat cheese; a salad of apples, carrots, walnuts and goat cheese lightly dressed in a raspberry vinaigrette and served in an edible basket crafted out of wonton wrappers; crab cakes; and duck.

Tender, crisp, sweet and moist, the dainty calamari rings went down quickly. The salad was truly gorgeous—colorful mesclun greens and arugula bundled by a thin wrapper of cucumber, with a wonderfully balanced swirl of aged balsamic vinegar and earthy olive oil. It was a nice lead-in to the hearty crab cakes (also panko-encrusted) served over an avocado, jalapeño and cilantro emulsion. Though a generous portion and packed with lumps, the crab cakes were a bit dry, and the accompaniments a little ho-hum. Crunchy, roasted corn kernels would’ve worked better than tomato slices. In step with the cooler weather, the pan-seared duck breast with Gruyère polenta, caramelized onions, and a sour cherry and Pinot Noir demi-glace made for prime comfort fare.

A slice of Grandma’s chocolate-chip cheesecake rounded out our meal and left us feeling satisfied all around.

BYO, cash only. 5 Brookline Blvd., Havertown; (610) 446-2780, kayascuisine.com.
 

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