My poor dad. He’s constantly being dragged to far-flung eateries, forced to consume obscure regional specialties or unfamiliar animal parts — often in the same dish. So last week, I took pity on him and suggested we meet at Albert’s Mandarin Gourmet in Huntington Village, where we could eat Chinese like it was 1979.
Albert’s Mandarin Gourmet opened in 2002, the successor to Mandarin Gourmet on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington that opened in the 80s. A recent renovation added a sushi bar, but the menu still hews pretty closely to the Cantonese-American style that once dominated the Chinese landscape in America.
Dad ordered the sizzling rice soup, expecting to hear the sizzle of the superhot rice hitting the liquid, but this operation had been performed in the kitchen. He was disappointed, and I thought the shrimp were the only thing in it that had any taste. I was looking forward to the spareribs, but though they were meaty, they lacked both a porky savor and the deep, charred sweetness I was hoping for. Pork dumplings were tough and thick-skinned.
I spied on the menu “shredded pork Peking style,” a dish that I’ve enjoyed in many Chinatown restaurants (and at Hunan Taste in Greenvale). But instead of a tight, savory amalgam of pork, dried bean curd and yellow leeks, Albert’s version comprised only strips of pork and bamboo shoots in a sweet sauce and topped with scallions.
The meal had some high points: Stir-fried snow pea leaves (a special vegetable) were very good, andI though I hadn’t had shrimp in lobster sauce in a few decades, I thoroughly relished the walk down memory lane.
After we finished dinner, I kept my assessment to myself. Why spoil dad’s enjoyment with my carping? But a few days later I asked him, "'What did you think of our Chinese dinner?'' Not so great, he replied — though he stopped short of requesting a trip to Flushing to eat pig intestines.
Albert’s Mandarin Gourmet is at 269 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-673-8188.