Like crocuses in spring, Asian eateries have been popping up along the stretch of Merrick Road running between Bellmore and Merrick. There's Sushi Ko and Xaga of Merrick and, in Bellmore, Jen's Chinese Food & Catering and -- just a block away -- Kanda Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar.
Nobody is complaining about the c-ompetition. Certainly not Sushi Ko owner James Wang, who views his non-fusion Japanese restaurant as an entity apart. "Japanese food is very popular now and the demand is very high," said Wang, who drove all over Long Island to find just the right location. "Before I opened," Wang said, "I tried all the other places. I think I can survive."
So, too, does Tom Wang (no relation), co-owner of Xaga of Merrick, an offshoot of Xaga Sushi in Hewlett. "This community is similar to . . . the Five Towns area," says Wang, citing a high income level. At any rate, he adds, "Competition helps each improve their food and quality."
So, here's what's new and Asian on Merrick Road, between the Wantagh and Meadowbrook Parkways.
2063 Merrick Rd., Merrick
THE SCENE A sleek, chic bi-level spot.
THE FOOD Owner James Wang, who worked for a tuna fishing company under Japanese sea captains, clearly knows raw fish. Here, quality is high, presentation pretty, both fish and rice at perfect room temperature. On the list of kitchen entrees: steamed Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce and organic chicken tempura.
THE COST $$-$$$
2725 Merrick Rd., Bellmore
THE SCENE A cozy and comfortable spot with a sushi bar and a contemporary vibe.
THE FOOD You'll find a long list of specialty maki rolls plus a kitchen menu that covers the map of Asia: A choice of protein (chicken, tofu, beef, shrimp or fish) with Malaysian red curry sauce, spicy mango sauce or Indonesian sambal sauce, as well as such options as Sichuan crispy shredded beef and pork katsu.
THE COST $$
217 Merrick Rd., Merrick
INFO 516-379-8888, xagasushi.com
THE SCENE Dramatic bi-level space with an elegant sushi bar and colorful lighting.
THE FOOD Lots of fancy maki rolls here. Chirashi is fresh and pretty. Other highlights: shrimp and eggplant in garlic sauce, a well-nuanced chicken pad Thai, Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce and chicken with satay sauce.
THE COST $$-$$$
2695 Merrick Rd., Bellmore
INFO 516-221-8888, jenschinesefood.com
THE SCENE Hyper-informal, a cross between takeout and full-fledged restaurant -- tea comes in Styrofoam cups, but there's also table service.
THE FOOD The straightforward menu lists Chinese dishes from several regions: Cantonese big bowl noodle soups, Hunan chicken and Sichuan beef, old school Chinese American classics as egg foo young and chow mein, as well as light steamed dishes and vegetarian options.
THE COST $-$$
2016 Merrick Rd. Merrick
INFO 516-223-9200, kobansushi.com
A modernistic vibe and an extensive menu of sushi and kitchen specialties.
1828 Merrick Rd., Merrick
A small and unpretentious spot for sushi bar items and traditional kitchen dishes (teriyaki, tempura, noodles and fried rice).
2809A Merrick Rd., Merrick
Hidden in a strip mall, this sushi-only counter service spot does a large takeout business, but there's seating as well.
2618 Merrick Rd., Bellmore
A cozy little Thai storefront with such items as spicy duck soup and a variety of curries.
How they rate
Average meal price per person:
$$$$ = $100, $$$ = $60, $$ = $30, $ = $15