1141-1 Jericho Tpke., Commack
SERVICE: Very good
AMBIENCE: What’s on TV?
ESSENTIALS : Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Major credit cards accepted. One-level dining room.
Pacific Moon rises to brighten a dim, strip-mall spot.
The lively Asian-fusion restaurant succeeds Perfecto Mundo, a stellar Latin-fusion dining room that deserved a run longer than its four years. On the upside, Pacific Moon is very good.
You’ll be able to see it only from the westbound lanes of Jericho Turnpike, so look for the Northgate shopping center sign and make a quick right into the parking area.
The look is considerably different from the festive, colorful style of Perfecto Mundo. Except for the television tuned to sports at the beverage bar, it’s almost as serene as the sushi station. Only the exclamations of diners who’ve found a winning dish, as they often do, break the quiet. On a weekday night, you could conduct a tea ceremony here.
Although it’s billed as Asian-fusion, Pacific Moon stands out less for a collision of cuisines than it does by offering fare that’s better than many specific Chinese, Japanese, and Thai establishments do on their own.
General Tso’s chicken, rarely more than a buck private’s bird, ranks high for a fine balance of spice and sweetness, with just enough crunch and tender meat. Cold sesame noodles arrive as one of the best around, for the texture and the taste.
Veer Thai with a stirring casserole fueled by coconut milk and red curry, starring chicken and shrimp. The house’s pad Thai also is worth sharing, especially the vegetable version. You can make a quick side trip to Singapore for savory rice noodles. And the spicy tuna tartare delivers the heat without masking the flavor of the fish.
Penang curry, rice-wine vinegar and caramelized soy syrup help define the crisp red snapper, sent out at exactly the right moment to be picked apart. Grilled lemongrass prawns, however, show up overdone, as do the leathery chicken satay and the dry minced chicken that’s headed for iceberg lettuce wraps. Mild, sweet Thai-style crabcakes with pineapple salsa, and pleasing shumai, or shrimp dumplings, amount to a course correction.
A starter dubbed Peking duck does contain some of the ingredients in the classic, but it’s not the production you’d expect. The impression: four sticky buns. The result: not very harmonious.
The sushi bar offers handsome presentations and often excellent fish. Try an a la carte sampler of nigirizushi, the traditional uncooked fish on ovals of vinegared rice. Better choices include maguro tuna, yellowtail, sweet shrimp and striped bass.
Choose carefully from the long list of sushi rolls, whether the familiar or the signature variety. The rice-free, whimsically named “mind eraser roll,” keeps the ingredients orderly, from white tuna and lobster salad to avocado and jalapeño; the Snow White roll, with crunchy and spicy scallop, as well as white tuna and wasabi sauce.
Pacific Moon has a separate dessert menu, which should be perused. The stuff is mainly standard-issue. Fried banana leads fried ice cream.
But you’ll be refreshed and revived more by a cup of green tea.