The Stony Brook Chinese-restaurant boom, which has spread east to Centereach and Selden, is now making inroads north into East Setauket. Jiang Hu has opened in the little peaked-roof building that used to be Little Joe’s III pizzeria (where it shares quarters with Cupeez Drive-Thru).
The menu concentrates on the authentic Chinese cuisine of a number of regions: soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, seaweed-pork soup red-braised pork belly with chestnuts, salt-and-pepper shrimp, cumin lamb and spicy kidneys. A specialty of the house is whole fish braised in a hot pot at your table. Starters are all under $9; most mains stay below $20. (Diners looking for what the menu calls “American dishes” will find General Tso’s and Kung-Pao chicken, shrimp with broccoli, orange chicken and more, almost all priced below $15.)
Jiangnan Zheng owned three restaurants in his native Fuzhou, in southeastern China, before moving to New York three years ago. After buying a house in Miller Place, he spent a year looking for and hiring staff for his first Long Island restaurant, which he hopes will appeal to both Chinese immigrants, like himself, and American-born customers. "If Americans order four dishes, I will try to get them to order one authentic Chinese dish." He's had luck introducing newbies to sliced pork with onion and pepper, chili beef and spicy shrimp.
Both types of customers are well advised to come by for lunch where select “American” dishes can be had for $9.50 plus soup and rice; select authentic Chinese dishes are served, over rice, for $11.95.
It’s an attractive little place, done up in shades of pickled wood, teal and aqua. For now, the pizzeria's deck ovens are still in situ, between dining room and kitchen, but they are hidden by a row of curtains.
Jiang Hu is at 30 Route 25A, East Setauket, 631-364-9811, jianghu.us.