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Chinese restaurant Saaho Village closes in Great Neck

Steamed BBQ eel dumplings at Saaho Village.

Steamed BBQ eel dumplings at Saaho Village. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Saaho Village had the most innovative Chinese menu on Long Island. Now, after less than two years, the Great Neck restaurant has closed, according to a post on its Facebook page.

Saaho Village opened in May 2017, the first Long Island venture for the Chinese impresario Spencer Chan. Chan, who emigrated from Hong Kong in 1976, was a partner at three seminal Cantonese restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown: 20 Mott, Golden Unicorn and Sweet-n-Tart (whose Manhattan and Flushing locations are now both closed).

In a departure from Long Island’s prevailing Sichuan trend, Saaho Village was resolutely Cantonese, its name deriving from the town in Guangzhou (formerly Canton) that is famous for its delicate, translucent rice noodles. Their traditional manufacture was depicted in a series of eight stylized woodcut panels, and about a third of the menu was devoted to them.

The rice noodles were deployed in various ways — cut wide and narrow, coiled and stacked, served with meats and vegetables — but, to me, they never lost their bland gumminess. My favorite items on the menu, fried rice topped with smelt roe and braised romaine lettuce, steered clear of rice noodles.

Nevertheless, I applauded Saaho Village’s commitment to creativity, a quality that is not the exclusive province of Western chefs. And I appreciated this bastion of subtle Cantonese flavors in our current Sichuan chili-peppered Chinese landscape.

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