Asian Moon brings its own kind of pan-Asian spice to the food-centric Southgate Shopping Center in Massapequa Park. This new offshoot of a Garden City spot manages to be simultaneously elegant and casual, suitable for family night as well as date night. I have no trouble adhering to a "Cheap Eats" budget while eating my way around the menu.
One night, I savor a piquant yellowtail and jalapeño roll as well as a lively "diamond" roll fashioned of spicy tuna, tempura flakes, mango and avocado with multicolored tobiko.
A single spoonful of tom yum soup (Thai hot and sour soup with shrimp) is fiery enough to send me for my water glass, alluring enough to bring me back for more.
There's surprising depth of flavor in an appetizer of duck pot stickers. And Asian-style baby back ribs, glossed with a mahogany barbecue sauce, are exquisitely smoky and tender.
As pure comfort food, it's hard to beat the chow fun (wide noodles) with shrimp. I also find much satisfaction in moo shu vegetables, a light but intensely flavorful mixture to be stuffed into flour pancakes slathered with hoisin sauce.
Another fine stuff-your-own pancake experience is the duck fajitas, a close relative of Peking duck. There's verve in a Malaysian red curry with chicken as well as in Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce and tofu, an impressive vegetarian dish.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Two otherwise appealing maki rolls (peanut with avocado and salmon with mango) are undermined by rice that's over-chilled and a bit hard.
On separate evenings, we request two chicken dishes extra-spicy - one with Sichuan peppercorn sauce, the other with Thai mango sauce. They both turn out shockingly bland; both times, the server offers hot sauce on the side.
I'd just as soon pass on dessert if it's fried banana cheesecake, a heavy, pasty clunker.
Minor shortcomings aside, Asian Moon is on the rise.
Asian Moon is located at 4922 Merrick Rd., Massapequa Park. Phone: 516-799-8800