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Tao, Syosset: First bites

This is the kung pao chicken at Tao

This is the kung pao chicken at Tao in Syosset Credit: Newsday /Joan Reminick

A little over a month ago, the former Empire Szechuan in Syosset morphed into Tao, which serves Chinese, Thai and Japanese fare. Some but not all the major players from the previous incarnation remain. Making a comeback after years as a Connecticut chef-restaurateur is Empire’s original chef, Ayih Eiaing, who is now co-owner as well as executive chef.

While there have been some cosmetic changes — new floor tiles, booths, sushi bar and cashier station — the place still has the look of being firmly rooted in the 80s. The upside is that the old school Chinese food — hard to come by, these days — is all it should be. Highlights of a recent visit included delicate pale green steamed vegetable dumplings ($6), textbook kung pao chicken ($12), fiery and studded with lots of peanuts, and fresh water spinach sauteed with garlic ($10). Thai style black pepper shrimp ($16) was very good, if a bit more Chinese than Thai in flavor. No problems with a classic dragon roll ($12).

Tao is at 6600 Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-931-3663.

Above: Kung pao chicken at Tao in Syosset

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