The Year of the Dragon is firing up. The 15-day celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year begins Jan. 23. The dragon symbolizes excitement, intensity, unpredictability. Here are some reliable Chinese eateries where the food comes first.
Pearl East in Manhasset will offer a multicourse, fixed-price new year dinner from Jan. 23 to Feb. 6. And you can be there for lion dancing festivities on Jan. 28 and 29. Dinner is $65 plus 20 percent tip. Featured dishes include filet mignon with asparagus, lobster in X.O. Cognac sauce, shredded duck in plum sauce, braised shiitake mushrooms, winter melon-seafood soup, a dim sum sampler and razor clam with black bean-eel sauce.
Pearl East, 1191 Northern Blvd., Manhasset; 516-365-9898, pearleastny.com
Fortune Wheel in Levittown prepares all the standard fare. And while there is no special new year's menu, the restaurant, in a mall shopping area known for Best Buy and BJ's Wholesale Club, can turn out very good, ambitious food. The two-course version of Beijing duck is among the better ones on Long Island, with crisp skin, puffy steamed buns, tender meat. First comes the lacquered skin, with hoisin sauce, threads of scallion and the buns; then, the duck meat with vegetables. Also recommended is the flounder prepared two ways, salt-baked and stir-fried.
Lotus East in St. James will offer a special new year's menu in addition to its regular one. Details not yet final. From the house standards, consider tangerine beef, prawns with Sichuan sauce, lobster with black bean sauce, pickled cabbage and shredded pork soup, chicken with Chinese eggplant. The restaurant has a traditional, easygoing suburban style.
Hunan Taste in Greenvale has a more contemporary look. And in addition to General Tso's chicken, you can sample his shrimp, too. Regular menu for new year's. Among the livelier dishes are the chicken Soong lettuce wraps, Sichuan wontons, tangerine chicken, Hunan duck with walnuts, and vegetarian hot-and-sour soup. Low-carb, gluten-free, oil-free dishes available.
Hunan Taste, 3 Northern Blvd., Greenvale; 516-621-6616. hunantasterestaurant.com