Open: Shang Hai Pavilion II in Bellmore
Whenever soup dumplings turn up on a menu, you can expect to find me contentedly slurping them. Which is how I found myself at the new Shang Hai Pavilion II in Bellmore (an offshoot of the Shang Hai Pavilion in Port Washington), newly installed in the former digs of Engs (chalk up another old-school Chinese restaurant demise).
What puzzled me was that the menu had references to the same Zong Xing Tu who opened (and then left) Zongs Shanghai in Bethpage, a chef whose culinary cred was established at Joe's Shanghai in Manhattan and Flushing. "Is that same Zong here?" I asked a waitress. She hesitated at first. Then, she said that Zongs brother was in the kitchen. A bit later, she said it was Zongs student. It is a mystery I continue to pursue.
Anyway, back to those dumplings, which have to be delicately bitten and then sipped before being devoured. They were quite flavorsome, as was the lions head (huge Shanghai meatballs). Neither, though, seemed as luxuriantly fatty as I or my lunch companion Erica Marcus expected. A lively discussion ensued, ending with Erica postulating that the Zong (or Zong disciple) in the kitchen may be a proponent of Shanghai spa cuisine.
Lion's head, left, and soup dumplings, right, at Shang Hai Pavilion in Port Washington (Newsday Photo / Bill Davis)