Long Islanders have reason to put Stony Brook into their GPS with the opening of Red Tiger Dumpling House, serving the sought-after Shanghai specialty known as the soup dumpling or bun. It's been a while since a restaurant east of the Queens-Nassau border has offered this delicacy.
Red Tiger's Shanghai-born dumpling chef, who goes by the name Dong, makes each dough packet by hand. You place one on a spoon, bite off the tip, gingerly sip the rich soup and then devour the savory pork (or pork and crab) filling, along with the wrapping. It's a heady experience.
While Red Tiger's repertoire of Shanghai, Beijing and Northern Chinese dishes often excels, the place can be a mixed bag when it comes to amenities. Yes, there's table service, but dinnerware can prove a jumble of the proper and the disposable stuff. Food is brought to your table by the cheerful crew in whatever order it becomes ready.
Live with it, so that you might get your chopsticks around the delicate crystal shrimp dumplings, verdant vegetable dumplings and open-topped shrimp and pork shumai. Pan-fried scallion pancakes are thin, crisp, flaky. And flavorsome wonton soup is bobbing with sheer-skinned little wontons.
Chef Wang Xuexing's main-course beef stew noodle soup is a hearty bowl of broth with thick, toothsome noodles and thinly sliced beef. Better yet is his cumin beef starring velvety slices of steak thinly coated with a deeply nuanced cumin sauce. Try the "big meatball with brown sauce," also known as lion's head, a Shanghai classic made with ground pork. While the restaurant's rendition of double-cooked pork may be authentic, the fatty meat won't score with the health-conscious.
Singapore mei fun noodles, redolent of curry and studded with shrimp, is a resounding hit. So, too, the fiery Beijing-style shredded potato with hot pepper (the strands of julienne spud are supposed to be firm).
Most desserts, such as low-sugar Black Forest cake and white chocolate cake, are brought in from a commercial supplier. Actually, they're not bad. And there's all manner of bubble tea.
Know in advance that you may have to wait -- for your table, for your food, for your check. But it's worth it, since Red Tiger is a creature not commonly found on Long Island.