Last week I got a tip that Long River in East Islip was a Chinese restaurant worth visiting, and I dutifully made my way there.
Before you enter the dining room you pass through a busy takeout operation, a wide counter behind which is a very large and well-staffed kitchen. The menu didn't promise anything interesting and the "Long River special soup" turned out to be a rather pallid broth filled with forgettable roast pork, chicken breast, shrimp and wontons.
But boy did I enjoy the "squid with baked spicy pepper salt" pictured above. I don't know what was baked about it: the squid had been fried within every inch of its life, and very skillfully. The light breading was very salty and peppery and spicy and the dish was further finished with sliced hot peppers. It was one of the better specimens of fried calamari I've had in recent memory. Service was exceedingly friendly as well.
Long River is at 351 Union Blvd., West Islip, 631-669-4982.
Newsday Photo / Erica Marcus