You’ll find cold sesame noodles at Teng’s Restaurant in Levittown, wonton soup, kung pao chicken and shrimp with cashew nuts. But also chili chicken, chicken pakoras and Manchurian shrimp. These Indian-inflected dishes are examples of Hakka cuisine, which is chef-owner Mike Teng’s specialty.
“Hakka” literally means “guest families” and refers to a people found all over China with its own language and cuisine. But outside of China, “Hakka” usually refers to the Chinese cooking of India, where many restaurants are owned by Hakka Chinese. When a family in New Delhi gets Chinese takeout, it's Hakka food they are ordering.
Teng, born to a Hakka family in India, cooked in Kolkata and Mumbai before emigrating to New York and making a name for himself at Jade Eatery and Lounge, an upscale Hakka-fusion restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens. Teng's, located in the same shopping center as Newsday Top 10 Barbecue eatery, Smoked Barn, opened in March.
It's a modest enterprise, designed for takeout. But, if you don’t mind eating out of takeout containers, you can enjoy the food hot from the wok in the bright dining room. In addition to Hakka specialties (many of them marked with a “spicy” red pepper) and Chinese takeout standards, Teng’s also mixes it up with a few Thai dishes such as green curry chicken and tamarind crispy fish as well as fusion favorites like teriyaki salmon, chicken lettuce wraps and chicken satay. Prices are modest: $5 to $12 for starters, $14 for most chicken dishes, $16 for most beef dishes, $18 for most seafood dishes.
There are a number of other Hakka restaurants on Long Island — among them, New Chili & Curry and Masala Wok in Hicksville, Nanking in Melville and New Hyde Park — but they are all owned by Indians.
Teng’s offers free delivery (minimum order is $15) within a five-mile radius.
Teng’s Restaurant is at 2936 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 516-396-0831, tengsrestaurant.com.