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Yao's Diner in Centereach, one of LI's pioneering Chinese restaurants, closes

Cumin lamb was a specialty at Yao's Diner

Cumin lamb was a specialty at Yao's Diner in Centereach, but a new version is on the menu at its replacement, Spice Workshop. Photo Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Yao’s Diner in Centereach, long recognized among Newsday’s Top 100 restaurants on Long Island, has closed. Its replacement, Spice Workshop, is still in a soft opening.

Rather than a diner, Yao’s was a full-service restaurant and one of the pioneers of authentic Chinese spots in Suffolk County; dishes such as fiery cumin lamb and sauteed snow-pea sprouts shared the menu with deep-fried crab and West Lake beef soup. It was opened in 2012 by then-Stony Brook student Adam Yao, with chef Guo Jhang cooking mostly Sichuan-inflected fare.

Spice Workshop is owned by Song Ran, a Chongqing native and former SUNY-Stony Brook student. It sports cherry-red walls and a modern, almost minimalist look. Ran said Spice Workshop’s menu is in flux — it is mostly printed in Chinese, save for a few Cantonese-style dishes listed in English — but is mostly centered on Sichuan-style dishes.

Spice Workshop is at 2503 Middle Country Rd. in Centereach, 631-676-5065.

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