Stir-fried lobster in ginger scallion sauce at China Pavilion in...

Stir-fried lobster in ginger scallion sauce at China Pavilion in Island Park. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

For all the great food it has, Nassau County's South Shore isn't a hotbed of regional Chinese restaurants. When a sign with Mandarin characters popped up on the main drag in Island Park, residents were buzzing about it on Facebook, even before a menu dropped online. 

China Pavilion is owned by Jimmy Lin, who also operates a casual sushi spot, Himawari, in Long Beach. Lin stepped in to take over the former Hungry Crab when the business began to fail. He thinks Chinese food is a safer bet in this neighborhood, which is awash with Chinese takeout spots but doesn't have many sit-down restaurants. He found two chefs, one Cantonese and one from the Sichuan region to develop the menu at his new venture. The chefs are making the reverse commute every day from Manhattan's Chinatown to Long Island. 

When you step into the large but darkly lit space, the first thing you'll notice is a multitiered fish tank, often a sign of a great Cantonese restaurant. The room has a retro '70s vibe to it with high-backed booths that recall the cavernous Chinese restaurants of yesteryear. But the opening menu is decidedly more contemporary, with a smart mix of Sichuan dishes (Chengdu steamed clams), Asian fusion stalwarts such as lettuce wraps and miso salmon, as well as a few old-school Cantonese dishes. 

At $40, the “lobster any style” sticks out. The kitchen chops a whole lobster and stir fries the pieces with the shell still on, displaying the head on a platter alongside its saucy bits. Lin recommends ordering it “golden yolk” style with butter and egg yolk, but even the ginger scallion is so saucy it's an undertaking just getting each piece of meat from the shell. Hot tip: Ask for extra napkins. For all its headaches, the punchy sauce adds an extra dimension of flavor to the supple lobster meat. 

A whole Peking roast duck at China Pavilion in Island...

A whole Peking roast duck at China Pavilion in Island Park comes with housemade pancakes, cucumbers and scallions. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Peking duck is also on the menu here, and it's great. But unless you're in a large group, go for the half-portion ($36) instead of the whole duck, which will set you back $70 and is quite a lot of meat. The housemade crepes at China Pavilion are thicker and heartier than usual, almost like flour tortillas. And that makes it even more substantial when used as a wrapper for the juicy duck and its crispy skin. 

Better-than-average crystal shrimp dumplings at China Pavilion in Island Park.

Better-than-average crystal shrimp dumplings at China Pavilion in Island Park. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

The most intriguing item is one of the 10 dim sum selections, the crystal shrimp dumplings ($8). Har gow is one of the most common dim sum dishes, but these are plumper and more delicate than usual, a sign of good dim sum. The restaurant will soon start a full dim sum brunch on the weekends — not with the carts, but from the kitchen, which often means better quality. Dim sum in Island Park? Now that's something to celebrate. 

China Pavilion, 4245 Austin Blvd., Island Park, 516-688-0022, chinapavilionip.com. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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