What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, Long Island had three kinds of Chinese restaurants: neighborhood takeouts, old-fashioned Chinese-American egg-rolleries and newer Asian-fusion spots where General Tso got an assist from sushi and pad thai. Now we are in the midst of an authentic, regional Chinese food boom, driven both by hungry Chinese students attending Stony Brook and Hofstra, and Chinese families moving across the Queens border into Nassau. The best news: The boom shows no sign of slowing down.
Here’s Newsday’s list of the top 10 Chinese restaurants for 2017.
Note: Most dishes mentioned are samples of the restaurants’ menus and may not be available at all times. Seasonal changes and dish substitutions are common.
Lamb with scallions from the Beijing House in Syosset, Nov. 28, 2015.
Seaweed and spare rib bone soup is served at Beijing House in Syosset.
Chef Wang New Sichuan Cuisine
Fried cumin lamb is a Sichuan dish served at Chef Wang restaurant in New Hyde Park, May 23, 2015.
Noodle soup with shredded pork and pickled vegetables is served at Chef Wang New Sichuan Cuisine in New Hyde Park.
Fortune Wheel Seafood Restaurant
Fortune Wheel Seafood Restaurant (3601 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown): When Fortune Wheel opened in 1993, Long Island had never seen a Chinatown-style restaurant with a fish tank full of live seafood, big round tables set up for family banquets and, at those tables, plenty of Chinese patrons. Twenty-four years later, Fortune Wheel is still delivering strong Cantonese fare: clams in black bean sauce, lobster over sticky rice, whole crispy fish, roast duck and pork, all manner of stir-fried noodles. Dim sum is served daily (carts on the weekend) and beyond the seafood-filled dumplings, don't pass up sticky rice in lotus leaves and pan-fried turnip cake. More info: 516-579-4700
Lobster with ginger and scallions is served at Fortune Wheel Seafood Restaurant in Levittown.
LOL Kitchen & Grill
LOL Kitchen & Grill (2545 Middle Country Rd., Centereach): Yang Liu, the 26-year-old owner of this singular eatery, has variously explained its name as an allusion to "laugh out loud," the online game League of Legends and "a Chinese reference to eating food on skewers." The extraordinary grilled skewers of meats, seafoods and vegetables certainly point to the latter. Specializing in the gutsy, cumin-laced cooking Northern China, the little restaurant has a certain bare-bones chic. Don't miss the hot pot stocked with braised pork belly, slippery tofu skins, blistered green beans and slivers of eggplant. And don't be shy about pointing to dishes at other tables asking the server what they are. More info: 631-615-6313
Cumin lamb with peppers is served at LOL Kitchen & Grill in Centereach.
New Fu Run
New Fu Run (50 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck): This sparkling satellite of Flushing's Fu Run specializes in the cuisine of China's Dongbei region (the northeasternmost area that used to be called Manchuria), which is heartier than Cantonese, less incendiary than Sichuan. There are comparably authentic Chinese restaurants on Long Island -- most of them centered around Stony Brook -- but what distinguishes New Fu Run is that it aims to serve diners of all backgrounds: much English is spoken. Recommended: a cold starter of country-style beef shank with cucumber, stew cabbage (sauerkraut) with pork and vermicelli served in a gleaming soup tureen, triple delight vegetables (a salty-sweet stir fry of potatoes, eggplant and red and green peppers) and the signature dish, cumin lamb chop, a rack of lamb ribs that hasn't been seasoned so much as overwhelmed by cumin. More info: 516-708-1888, furunrestaurant.com
Triple delight vegetables (eggplant, peppers, and potatoes) are served at New Fu Run in Great Neck.
Orient Odyssey (511 N. Broadway, Jericho): Chinese restaurateur par excellence Tommy Tan presides at this sleek sibling of his original restaurant, The Orient in Bethpage. Its subtitle, "Hong Kong style seafood," points you to one of the kitchen's specialties: here's the place to get salt and pepper shrimp, squid with ginger and scallions or, if they're available, razor clams or soft shell crabs. Other winners include crispy garlic chicken, the improbably delicious dish of crispy mayonnaised shrimp with sugared walnuts (which Tan popularized on Long Island) and snow pea leaves. Or, jettison the menu and just ask Tan what he recommends. More info: 516-719-0021, orientodysseyny.com
Sauteed, cubed flounder with chives is served at Orient Odyssey in Jericho.
Red Tiger Dumpling House
In Stony Brook the Red Tiger Dumpling House serves a spicy dish of shredded potato with hot peppers.
Steamed crabmeat and pork soup buns are served at the Red Tiger Dumpling House in Stony Brook.
Splendid Noodle (1320 Stony Brook Rd., Stony Brook): Come see the noodle show in Stony Brook. In the modest dining room of Splendid Noodle, the open kitchen is the stage and the star is the chef who stands facing the diners, stretching, folding and twisting a salami-thick rope of dough until it is supple enough to be divided, by his fingers, into filaments the width and regularity of spaghetti. Hand-pulled noodles, lamien, are a specialty of China's Gansu province. At Splendid Noodle, you can have them in broth with roast duck or oxtail, beef tendon or, for the even more adventurous still, pork intestines. Even better than the soups: cold noodles smothered with fragrant, savory minced pork, garnished with plenty of cilantro and cucumber to cut the richness and heat. More info: 631-675-6725
Noodles with minced pork are served at Splendid Noodle in Stony Brook.
Tao's Fusion (1310 Middle Country Rd., Selden): Don't let the word "fusion" in the name fool you: In Tao's case, it means pan-Chinese, not Chinese-American with a side of sushi and pad thai. The restaurant originally opened seven years ago at Tao's Delicacies but reopened in 2015 with a new name and a much nicer dining room. English-speaking guidance is at a premium here, but persevere and be richly rewarded. Recommended: beef tendon shaved so thin it's translucent and buzzy with a touch of numbing Sichuan peppercorns, sweet and savory Hunan-style pork belly served with papery leeks, dan dan noodles, fish soup with pickled greens, Uzbek lamb and, rare on Long Island, Peking duck. More info: 631-320-0414, taosfusionselden.com
Roasted Peking Duck is served at Tao's Fusion in Selden.
Yao's Diner (2503 Middle Country Rd., Centereach): One of the pioneers in Northern Suffolk's authentic Chinese surge, Yao's was opened by Adam Yao to offer fellow expatriate Stony Brook University students a taste of their native land, specifically the fiery cuisine of Northern China where cumin and chilies contribute a depth and heat that may surprise diners expecting the subtlety of Cantonese cooking. Among don't-miss dishes: incendiary cumin lamb, West Lake beef soup, deep-fried crabs, steamed pork ribs, pickled cabbage and Chinese celery with bamboo shoots. English-language menu guidance can be spotty. More info: 631-588-2218
Cumin lamb is served at Yao's Diner in Centereach.