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ToA Asian Fusion review: Stylish Farmingdale restaurant offers a taste of Asia

On Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, T.O.A. Asian Fusion in Farmingdale showed off its sashimi dinner. Prepared by chef Benny Liu, who general manager Katie Moore called "one of the best sushi chefs around," the dinner features tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, striped bass and king salmon. But the best part is the presentation, which Liu changes frequently, depending on his inspiration. (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

ToA Asian Fusion

122 Secatogue Ave., Farmingdale

516-777-8888, toaasianfusion.com

COST: $$-$$$

SERVICE: Friendly, efficient

AMBIENCE:Sleek and citified

ESSENTIALS: Open Sunday to Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m; weekend dinner reservations suggested; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible

ToA stands for Taste of Asia. It also has the flavor of the new suburbia.

Just south of the Long Island Rail Road in Farmingdale, in a setting sleek inside and comfortable alfresco, with apartments and rents rising around it, ToA has the youthful spark of all those commuters with backpacks.

The carefully designed establishment is pleasant, periodically punctuated by the piercing sounds of trains arriving and departing.

This mix suits the ongoing transformation of dining out and living in Farmingdale, here north of busy Main Street, which itself has evolved into a dining destination.

ToA is the sister restaurant of ToA in downtown Huntington, and an offspring of MoCA Asian Fusion, which has branches in Woodbury, Hewlett and Forest Hills, Queens. MoCA means modern concepts and culinary arts. You get both at ToA in an easygoing tour of cuisines Japanese, Chinese and Thai, with titular side trips to Indonesia, Malaysia and Mongolia, plus a hint of New American cooking.

So order the first-class, plump, pan-fried pork buns and the crisp lobster tacos. Pork gyoza, deftly fried, are fine; likewise, shrimp shumai.

The Thai-spiced chicken lettuce wrap is seriously juiced up with lime, basil and chilies. But chicken satay defines overcooked. Yellowtail jalapeño artfully arranges a mix of sweetness and spark. The duck tortilla, with avocado and cucumber with honey, mustard and hoisin sauce delivers a harmonious finish.

Traditional nigirizushi, with uncooked fish on ovals of vinegared rice, arrives satisfying and refreshing. Try pristine striped bass, baby yellowtail, maguro tuna. But one order of toro could have been sliced with a chain saw.

The house’s “signature rolls” put together combinations balanced and not so. They’re led by the “out of control” production with spicy tuna and yellowtail. Pass on those with fried banana or shrimp tempura. Shrimp and vegetable tempura on their own are excellent, with perfect crunch and texture. Enjoy a poke bowl, picking your own ingredients.

ToA trails with a bland Thai red curry casserole of chicken or seafood; and what’s billed as sambal Indonesian, which amounts to a dull saute. Pad Thai: same.

You’re better off with General Tso’s chicken, though the dish doesn’t justify its spicy red-pepper asterisk. The big bird here unquestionably is an excellent version of Beijing duck with lacquered skin, tender meat and puffy buns. Sichuan crisp, dry beef similarly elevates the Chinese choices with a hint of heat.

Skip “seared three ways,” which swings and misses three times, matching tuna with cilantro sauce, salmon with crab and mango, and white tuna with sweet chili.

“Creamy seafood,” a description that automatically triggers a warning alarm, actually works, brothy and generous with lobster, shrimp and scallops. Thai lemongrass soup with shellfish, and shrimp dumpling noodle soup both are worth ordering.

Avoid the Oreo tempura. Make it sorbet to go.

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