If the vegetables at the end of your chopsticks look particularly bright, that may be because chef Chao Jian picks up fresh seasonal ingredients from Asian markets near his home in Flushing before heading to J&C 68 Restaurant in Farmingville. Here, Chao commands the kitchen, while sushi chef Jimmy Huang artfully cuts and rolls raw fish at the sushi bar.
The restaurant's odd name, J&C 68, stand for Japanese and Chinese cuisines; the number 68 is supposed to bring good fortune to business ventures.
I'm not expecting the broth in my wonton soup to be this savory, the pork-filled dumplings this delicate. Another surprise is the flavor-intense chicken and vegetable soup that harbors fresh al dente noodles and tender-crisp green squash and carrots. Hot and sour soup has fire and pungency.
One meal begins with a "crazy" roll made of peppered tuna, avocado and spicy tuna laced with tempura flakes. It's got crunch and verve, as does a black dragon roll fashioned of shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado and eel. A salmon and avocado roll is simple and lush. I'm also impressed with the well-cut finfish in my chirashi, which is served on a plate, not in a bowl.
From the short roster of Thai dishes, I get the spicy basil chicken. While it doesn't set my mouth afire, it's subtle and complex. The Chinese two-flavor eggplant (chicken, shrimp and eggplant in a garlic-scallion sauce) also is executed with a deft, light hand. And that Chinese restaurant classic, diced chicken with peanuts, is properly done with dark meat (as it should be) and resonant with chile-fired heat.
In contrast with everything else is a drab seafood teriyaki: overcooked shrimp, scallops and salmon in a dull brown sauce. Brown, as well, is the bland beef chow fun.
It's more than the lucky number 68 that gives this place a business edge. Rather, it's the rationale of doing justice to three cuisines under one roof in an area that's short on restaurant choices.