Kai Burgers & Dumplings in Great Neck scores with eclectic menu
I was dubious, I admit. Late last year, someone started raving about a place that served great burgers and great dumplings. It was called Kai Burgers & Dumplings. Well, I thought, points for clarity.
Here’s the thing, though. The dumplings I recently tried at Kai were some of the best I’ve had on Long Island. I went with the "hometown classics," filled with pork, shrimp and chives and pan fried. What the menu didn’t tell me was the dumplings came with what’s known (in dumpling-obsessive circles) as a skirt: As the dumplings cook on the griddle, the cook pours a thin batter around them which fries into a crisp, lacy "skirt" that holds the dumplings in formation.
And I’m here to tell you that the smashed burger, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, sauteed onions and pink mayo was a winner too.
Dumplings and burgers are just the tip of this iceberg of incongruity. The restaurant takes over for Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, a Colombian restaurant that has moved around the corner to the larger, more luxe quarters of what used to be Element Seafood. Mi Casa’s rustic tile floor remains, but Kai has furnished the space like a neighborhood pub, with plaques and mirrors advertising brands such as Heineken, Finlandia vodka and Drambuie liqueur. There are a couple of wooden booths and, along the back wall, a full bar.
The restaurant launched with a menu of burgers, pan-fried dumplings, "keto" salads and three prime steaks: rib-eye, skirt and filet mignon — the only items priced higher than $20. A specials menu, however, has added soup dumplings, onion rings, seaweed salad, chicken noodle soup, spaghetti, chicken teriyaki and fried rice.
And now, my friend tells me, there’s an amazing new cheesesteak.
Kai Burgers & Dumplings, 7 S. Middleneck Rd., Great Neck; 516-304-5398