Sanpei chicken claypot is a savory entree at Moonstone in...

Sanpei chicken claypot is a savory entree at Moonstone in Great Neck. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

The moonstone, a symbol of passion and luck, now signifies something even better: standout Chinese food.

Sleek and contemporary, bright and handsome, Moonstone artfully transforms this Northern Boulevard space close to the Nassau-Queens border, erasing memories of Harvest Buffet and creating new ones with a taste long missing between Flushing and Montauk.

The near-demise of high-quality Chinese cuisine in Nassau and Suffolk needs no more chronicling. Just look around. You could count the stellar ones with a pair of chopsticks. The faithful still mourn the closing years ago of Hunam in Levittown.

But Moonstone will turn you optimistic and restore your appetite, if not with double-fried beef, hacked chicken and spicy cabbage, then with its own reliable repertoire.

Immediately, order the puffy, Shanghai-style soup dumplings filled with pork, crab and delectable broth. Use the spoon, bite the knot, suck in the soup, down the dumpling, smile. Nibble on recklessly rich, hoisin-glazed bacon sliders, a tribute to pork belly and pickled green papaya, updating the classic bun. Twirl tasty wheat noodles in sesame-peanut sauce.

Be nostalgic and sample the fine pork pot stickers. Try the lettuce wrap packed with chicken or seafood. Share the roast pork-and-taro puffs and the pan-seared chicken-and-Chinese chives dumplings. Skippables: dry chicken curry puffs and routine scallion pancake, duck spring roll and "crispy rice shrimp ball."

Allow the half-hour for the kitchen to prepare the one-course Beijing duck. Tender meat, crackling skin, spring onion, cucumber, hoisin sauce, all neatly folded in pancakes, arrive in a steamer, duck legs plated alongside. Savor the spin on a sanpei chicken claypot, here with Chinese sausage and cloud ear mushrooms. Taste the tender, wok-seared Frenched rack of lamb with spring-onion sauce.

Pick the memory-lane, citrus flavor crispy beef, sweet-hot and threaded with carrot, and the elemental shrimp with lobster sauce, and the updated "green'' shrimp with asparagus and broccoli. Naturally, there's kung pao chicken. But catch the kung pao monkfish with leeks, chilies and peanuts. Florida red snapper becomes "crispy whole fish," a sweet-tart swimmer, crunchy, snowy, balanced with flair. Even better: "kung fu" halibut in a zesty, peppery Sichuan-style mala sauce.

With these or any main dish, consider the excellent eggplant in garlic sauce and the stir-fried string beans with minced pork.

Conclude with mango pudding, coconut tofu pudding or the banana spring roll rather than riffs on tarte Tatin and Key lime pie, or the dull fried ice cream and red bean-cream filled sesame ball. Sip green tea, contemplate takeout, plan your next visit.

Moonstone is a gem.

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