Following the smash success of Dhamaka, chef/partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar of Unapologetic Foods (Masalawala, Rowdy Rooster, Adda) continue their mission of highlighting Indian cuisine from underrepresented regions of the country with Semma, a spot dedicated to the flavors of Southern India. Inside a vibrant space with design elements honoring the Deccan peninsula, executive chef Vijay Kumar takes inspiration from his upbringing in the state of Tamil Nadu and offers signature items like the Nathai Pirattal, a snail dish with tamarind and kal dosa. Additional standouts include the tender Kudal Varuval made with goat intestines; Goanese Oxtail; and Kanyakumari Nandu Masala for two with dungeness crab, parotta, coconut rice.
Bringing the grand legacy of Southern Indian food to the forefront, Semma—a Tamil word for unrestrained enthusiasm (phenomenal! superb! awesome!)—is another offering from the team behind Unapologetic Foods. Opened last year and as the restaurant group’s latest success that’s being lauded by the food world, its kitchen is stewarded by chef Vijay Kumar, a Tamil Nadu native who spent a decade plus at the award-winning Rasa in California. The menu, which also spotlights the cuisine of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Goa has excited the palates of many, especially South Indian New Yorkers. Elements like oxtail, venison, and snails are given prominent placement, a nod to Kumar’s farming and hunting roots. Cocktails utilize Indian ingredients such as jaggery syrup and curry leaf infused gin; and the interiors play off the restaurant’s tropical roots, from renderings of verdant plants to basket lamps.