Dry pot fish at Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine in Hewlett.

Dry pot fish at Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine in Hewlett. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Tea-smoked duck anyone? Hand-pulled noodles? Long Island is in the midst of an efflorescence of great, regional Chinese restaurants and such vaunted dishes, once requiring a trip to Chinatown, are readily available without having to cross the city line.

The first beachhead of this movement was in Stony Brook where, more than a decade ago, value-priced, mostly Sichuan restaurants began springing up to satisfy the many Chinese nationals who attend the university. Then, as Chinese families began settling in Nassau’s North Shore, those towns followed suit. Now, you can find real, unadulterated Chinese cooking as far west as Great Neck and as far east as Farmingville.

Some of these eateries have staked out prominent locations — O Mandarin transformed the sprawling former Mio Posto on Old Country Road in Hicksville and Port Washington’s Jia took over the stout building on Old Shore Road, formerly Harbor Q Barbeque & Smokehouse, and turned it into a jewel box of blond wood, skylights and contemporary light fixtures.

The pandemic and its aftermath have been particularly hard on Chinese restaurateurs, who struggle to keep prices low and attract workers. You may well have missed the debuts of these 10 restaurants.

Lunar New Year falls on Sunday and there’s no better way to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit than by seeking out one of these new eateries.

Dun Huang

8 Cold Spring Rd., Syosset

Dun Huang is the name of a small city in Gansu, a province whose capital, Lanzhou, is famous for its hand-pulled noodles floating in a beef broth slicked with chili oil along with tender slices of beef tendon and radish. At Dun Huang (in Syosset), a fellow in the kitchen will actually make the noodles to order, stretching, folding, and twisting wheat dough into ever-thinner filaments, each as regular as factory-made spaghetti. Dun Huang (in northern China) was an important site on the Silk Road, the ancient overland trading route that connected Europe with Asia, and much of the menu here features dishes that were born of centuries of East meeting West: wheat rolls stuffed with spicy meat, rice pilaf with lamb and sauteed cabbage, a cold salad of shredded potatoes, skewered lamb shashlik, braised beef with potatoes. The place is casual in the extreme but almost nothing costs more than $13. More info: 516-921-7060

Lanzhou beef noodles at Dun Huang in Syosset.

Lanzhou beef noodles at Dun Huang in Syosset. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Ramen Totem

69 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck

When Ramen Totem opened earlier this year, the menu offered a familiar range of Japanese noodles and sushi, along with some Chinese dishes. But soon, the Japanese items were jettisoned in favor of a Shanghai-centric menu, although many of the noodle dishes are still identified as “ramen.” The “house special” noodle soup has a light but flavorful broth, bok choy, shrimp, tender slices of beef, and comes with your choice of impossibly long hand-pulled noodles or rustic knife-cut noodles. Not only are the soup dumplings superb, so are another Shanghainese specialty, the open-topped, rice filled dumplings called shao mai. Other highlights: pan-fried buns filled with egg and chives and a bunch of Sichuan dishes such as “Real Kung Fu mala pot.” “Mala” is the distinctive numbing sensation endowed by the use of Sichuan peppercorns and manager Florence Xiong explained that, in this context, “Kung Fu” refers not to the martial art but “to any skill you learn through hard work and lots of practice.” More info: 516-482-8866, ramentotemorder.com

Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine

1230 Broadway, Hewlett

Nassau’s South Shore has never been a hotbed of regional Chinese cooking — this is the land of egg rolls and spare ribs — so the opening of Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine warmed the hearts of locals looking for authentic dishes served in a spacious, attractive setting. Owner Jacky Chen, a computer engineer by day, can barely contain his enthusiasm for “making new friends and sharing our food with them.” "Our food" is the food of Sichuan province, and Chen is justifiably proud of his wontons doused in chili oil and his dan dan noodles, tossed with a savory-spicy mixture of chili oil, ground pork, pickled mustard greens and pleasantly tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The “dry-pot” stir fries (with chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, fish or tofu) are served, dramatically, in a wok cradled by a little wooden hearth whose Sterno flame keeps it hot. The exhaustive menu includes plenty of non-Sichuan dishes such as Cantonese “two-sides noodles” with beef with snow peas, sliced bamboo shoots and very tender chunks of meat as well as the Shanghainese baby bok choy with black mushrooms. More info: 516-299-8080, delicislegend.com

Iron plate beef at Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine in Hewlett.

Iron plate beef at Delicis Legend Chinese Cuisine in Hewlett. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Kai Burgers & Dumplings

7 S. Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck

The pan-fried dumplings include shrimp, beef-shiitake-mozzarella and "hometown classic," filled with pork, shrimp and chives. The dumplings come 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. This, it turns out, is the way they serve them in Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, whence hails owner Danny Gao whose initial goal was, he said, “to serve food that was simple and popular and that I loved to eat.” That meant dumplings, smashed burgers (which he fell in love with when he moved to New York) and prime steak. (Before emigrating he operated a steakhouse in Shanghai.) Since the restaurant opened, customers have suggested that Gao add soup dumplings and “hibachi” stir-fries, pasta, cheesesteaks and more to the menu. This monument to incongruity has a full bar and a playlist of '70s disco. And I’m here to tell you that the smashed burger, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, sauteed onions and pink mayo is terrific. More info: 516-304-5398, kaiburgers.square.site

Ivory Kitchen

87 Main St., Port Washington

Tiny and modestly appointed it may be, Ivory Kitchen offers a singular and refined take on Chinese food. Chef Jeff Li, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Cissie Xi, is a native of Yunnan province and a veteran of authentic Chinese restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Chinatowns. His menu offers such crowd-pleasers as soup dumplings and fried rice but don’t leave without sampling less-familiar preparations like smoked duck breast, braised whole fish in hot bean sauce, stir-fried lamb and sauteed lotus root with black beans and green chili. Li shops every morning and is open to being inspired by what he finds. One lunch’s special was a stir-fry of celtuce, a variety of lettuce that is cultivated for its long steam as well as its tender leaves. Lately he’s been inspired by fava beans to make a dou men fan, a rice casserole of the beans and Yunnan ham that is cooked in a special brass pot. More info: 631-604-7800, ivorykitchenpw.com

Yunnan beef noodles soup at Ivory Kitchen in Port Washington.

Yunnan beef noodles soup at Ivory Kitchen in Port Washington. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

753 Dumpling House

753 Franklin Ave., Franklin Square

On Long Island, “dim sum” has become a catchall phrase for Chinese dumplings. But in China, the term refers to a range of dishes traditionally served during the day at Cantonese tea houses. There are dumplings, yes, but also fragrant sticky rice steamed in a lotus leaf with bits and bobs of meat, nubbins of spare ribs braised with pumpkin, translucent rice-noodle rolls, roast pork buns, and sweet buns filled with custard, bean paste or lotus seeds. 753 has all of these, all the time. As for dumplings, there are classic pork-chive, chicken-mushroom, vegetable, beef and the signature 753 House (shrimp, chive and egg) which are available steamed or pan fried. You'll also find soup dumplings (pork, crab-pork, shrimp), small dishes (from flaky scallion pancakes and spicy cucumber salad to fried spare ribs and curry fish balls) as well as noodles soup, stir-fried noodles and fried rice. Owner Bonnie Jiang and her partners came upon a solution to both the labor shortage and their potentially overwhelming number of offerings: The menu is a double-sided piece of paper and each item is listed next to a small circle — as with a standardized test. Customers simply note with a pencil what they would like and the menu is whisked off to the kitchen. You can also order through the website for pickup. More info: 516-887-1137, 753dumplinghouse.com

Jia

84 Old Shore Rd., Port Washington

If you need proof that Chinese cuisine is taking a great leap forward on Long island, look no further than Jia, whose culinary artistry, minimalist design and menu prices are more in line with fine dining. And why shouldn’t it be? “My entire career I’ve faced the problem of price resistance to Asian food,” partner Doron Wong said. “But we use great products, we prepare them with great skill. And we’ve tried to create an environment where people will want to really dine.” Whereas most of LI’s new authentic Chinese restaurants focus on the cuisines of Sichuan or the country’s northern or western regions. Jia's mostly Cantonese menu will seem much more familiar to Americans since it is Cantonese cuisine that forms the basis of so much Chinese American food: Here are the dumplings that won our hearts, the stir-fried lobster, the steamed whole fish, the Peking duck, the sweet and sour pork. But those crystal shrimp dumplings, packed with shrimp and fresh bamboo shoots, are tinted pink and brushed with gold; soup dumplings (a specialty of Shanghai) are handmade to order — evident in their gossamer but supple skins — and crowned with sweet-tart goji berries; tea-smoked chicken is made with Bo Bo Farms heritage poultry; seafood fried rice is made with lump crabmeat, jumbo shrimp, bay scallops and squid. More info: 516-488-4801, jia-dimsum.com

Tea-smoked duck at Jia in Port Washington.

Tea-smoked duck at Jia in Port Washington. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Spicy Home Tasty II

1260 Waverly Ave., Farmingville

Spicy Home Tasty II has pushed the mapo tofu zone a few miles further east in Suffolk. This offshoot of Spicy Home Tasty in Commack (est. 2017) takes over the former digs of Tofu Chinese & Japanese Restaurant and boasts one of LI’s most attractive Chinese dining rooms. The menu is virtually identical to that of the mother ship: starters such as wontons in chili oil, beef tripe and tendon in chili oil, chicken in chili oil, dan dan noodles. Many of the Sichuan entrees are organized by preparation style: hot sauce (with cabbage, garlic and celery), garlic sauce (self explanatory), dry pot (a sauce-less sauté with celery, wood ears, lotus root, peppers, potatoes and cilantro). Spice-avoiders will appreciate the scallion-style dishes. The menu is filled out with dozens of Sichuan, Cantonese and America-Chinese style dishes — plus a couple of Thai noodles for good measure. More info: 631-698-6550, spicyhometasty2longisland.com

O Mandarin

600 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville

It took Peter Liu more than two years to transform the former Mio Posto into an opulent homage to Chinese culture. Much of the material comes straight from China — reclaimed bricks and tiles, a replica of a Tang-dynasty temple that mimics its own reflection in water — and the food, courtesy of James Beard award-semifinalist chef, Eric Gao, is as grand as the décor. The authentic recipes are drawn from all over China, but the presentations are designed to impress: a ziggurat of wok-braised shrimp crowned with microgreens, succulent jasmine-tea-smoked duck reposing on a bed of ruffled shrimp chips, a tremblingly tender whole pork shank cradled in a stop-sign-sized lotus leaf. And, if you have room at the end of your meal, order the "Emperor’s Eight Treasures" comprising eight sweets whose recipes date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and are presented in a black-and-red lacquered box. More info: 516-622-6666, omandarin.com/hicksville

Wok braised shrimp with garlic soy at O Mandarin in Hicksville.

Wok braised shrimp with garlic soy at O Mandarin in Hicksville. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Eatery 19

19 Ira Rd., Syosset

Eatery 19 is Long Island’s only restaurant devoted to the cuisine of Taiwan. Don’t miss either of Taiwan’s most famous dishes: Braised beef noodle soup is rich with fat noodles, tender chunks of meat and tendon, and fresh and pickled greens; the broth ringing with star anise and cinnamon. Eatery 19’s three-cup chicken (named for its use of similar amounts of rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil) has a dark, sweet savor that contrasts with its garnish of fried Thai basil leaves. A Taiwanese dish that deserves to be more famous is the popcorn chicken, pieces of dark meat dredged in potato starch and then fried twice to achieve peak crunch. Other Taiwanese specialties include oyster pancakes, stinky tofu (not a value judgment, just a descriptor) and pork intestines with duck blood. The Taiwanese have a tradition of "railroad bento" meals that are sold at the train stations to be enjoyed on board. Eatery 19 (fittingly located within steps of the LIRR) sells two: One with a chicken leg, one with a pork chop. Both come with rice covered with ground meat, a soy braised egg, and a plump link of sweet Taiwanese pork sausage. More info: 516-802-3500, eatery19.com 

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