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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

When I walked into Empire Szechuan Gourmet last night, the ambient aroma pierced the Chinese-nostalgia part of my brain and before I was even seated I knew I was going to order shrimp and lobster sauce and pork fried rice. (Maybe that was the treif part of my brain that got pierced…)

Nevertheless I perused the menu and was surprised to see steamed juicy buns, aka soup dumplings, the Shanghai specialty consisting of dumplings that contain not only ground pork, but soup as well. I have to believe that it isn’t an oft-ordered item since the dumplings took close to 15 minutes to show up at my table and, when they did, it was without the customary porcelain (or in this case plastic) soup spoon that cradles each dumpling while you sauce it, bite it and suck the soup out of it. The dumplings weren’t great: the skins weren’t thin or tender, the ground pork not sufficiently succulent.

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On the other hand, the shrimp and lobster sauce was fabulous. The gigantic, luscious shrimp were as good as any I have had anywhere in recent memory. The pork fried rice was fine. I left happy.

Empire Szechuan Gourmet is at 6600 Jericho Tpk., Syosset, 516-931-3663.

Newsday photo / Erica Marcus