The Orient in Bethpage has a huge selection of dishes, some of them authentic Chinese, some of them American-Chinese classics, some of them the product of owner Tommy Tan’s fevered imagination. He is always excited to try out his new creations on customers and it’s rare that I leave the Orient without having gotten a taste of some new specialty, usually featuring filet mignon. (Tan seems to believe that the American diner hasn’t been born yet who won’t be won over with filet mignon.)
Last night we tried an eggy, wok-fried Korean pancake topped with hoisin sauce and filled with filet mignon. Served atop shredded cabbage, it was an improbable success. I wasn’t as crazy about another dish, the sweet-and-sour pork tenderloin — pork tenderloin being another cut of meat that Tang believes exerts magical powers.
But the best things we ate were the most traditional. Shrimp toast is a Cantonese dim sum in which little points of white bread are smeared with shrimp paste and then deep fried. The Orient’s were luscious and greaseless. Then came a whole steamed chicken, skin, bones and all, garnished with startlingly green stalks of Chinese mustard greens. This is the kind of clean, straightforward cooking that ably refutes the notion that Chinese food is heavy, gloppy or lacking in refinement. It's a world-class dish.
The Orient is at 623 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage, 516-822-1010.