Sake Asian review

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The duck roll is reminiscent of a Peking

The duck roll is reminiscent of a Peking duck dish at Sake Asian restaurant in West Babylon. (July 20, 2013) Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

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Into the former West Babylon digs of Singha Thai comes Sake Asian, bringing with it a much-needed renovation. A neutral color palette plays well against colorful murals and blingy fixtures. A large sushi bar, comfortable booths and tables add to the appeal. So, too, do hospitable servers. Discounted dinner prices -- 30 percent off sushi bar items, for example -- make the place eminently affordable. But why make customers do the math?

Especially when they have to navigate a menu that reaches all over the map. Know beforehand: The forte is Chinese, with Japanese coming in second and Thai trailing behind.

One meal begins with a vegetable spring roll that surpasses expectations with its delicacy and vibrancy. Yet tom yum soup, while spicy, lacks the characteristic Thai hot and sour notes. In contrast, the sake house soup -- basically Chinese hot and sour -- scores highly.

Peking duck comes to mind with the first bite of the well-wrought duck roll. And rockies shrimp (or rock shrimp tempura) is a creditable rendition, featuring batter-fried shellfish drizzled with spicy mayo.

Things can get a bit overwrought at the sushi bar. The cylindrical triple delight stars tuna and salmon tartare topped with -- and overwhelmed by -- a neon green mélange of olive oil and cilantro. And a sushi sandwich -- big triangles of rice stuffed with spicy tuna, spicy salmon, mango sauce and more -- doesn't quite come together. But yellowtail with jalapeño and orange seviche sauce works. So, too, an entree chirashi platter of fresh finfish plus the obligatory surimi and cooked shrimp alongside a cylinder of seasoned rice.

A mustard-hued main dish Thai red curry with scallops doesn't deliver the characteristic Thai coconut flavor. And a too-sweet caramelized soy Penang sauce nearly drowns strips of crisp red snapper. Pad Thai with chicken tastes more Chinese than Thai. But chicken with Szechuan peppercorns is a fiery knockout -- underscoring once more the kitchen's expertise with Chinese fare.

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Dinner ends with a big ball of fried ice cream. It's surprisingly good, its crust cakelike beneath a greaseless, lightly crisped exterior.

More evidence of promise at this amiable newcomer.

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