After a recent run-in with subpar honey-walnut shrimp, I hied my Honda to The Orient in Bethpage, where it is a house specialty.
Honey-walnut shrimp is made from battered, deep-fried shrimp and sugar-infused, deep-fried walnuts, served with steamed broccoli and mayonnaise sauce. Its cross-cultural makeup and sweet flavors raise the hackles of Chinese traditionalists, but in fact the dish traces its origins to the banquet restaurants of Hong Kong.
Joining me at dinner was the same friend on whom I had inflicted the dish’s earlier, inferior iteration at a different restaurant. He was wary, but partook anyway. And pronounced this version unexpectedly delightful. (At The Orient, the dish is called crispy shrimp with walnuts and mayonnaise and costs $20.95 for 10 jumbo shrimp. Owner Tommy Tan is also apt to refer to it, for obscure reasons, as Grand Marnier shrimp.)
Regulars at The Orient know not to rely too much on the restaurant’s menu. Instead, grab Tan and get his advice on the daily specials. He suggested we get a clear soup featuring cellophane noodles, shredded pork and luffa gourd (aka Chinese okra), as well as a stir-fry of flowering chives, preserved tofu, fried tofu, Chinese celery and carrots. Both dishes were winners.
The Orient is at 623 Hicksville Rd. Bethpage 516-822-1010.