Chinese New Year ushers in the Year of the Rooster this Saturday, and with it comes yet another excuse to dive into the rich culinary delicacies of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Long Islanders have their pick of restaurants of the Chinese persuasion, with countless classical stir fry joints, all complete with red vinyl-lined chairs and a faded menu above the walk-up counter. Nearly all of those neighborhood mainstays has a dish worth celebrating—from sweet and sour pork to General Tso’s chicken to moo shu pork—and are reliable sources to satiate the island’s take-out fix.
For a more authentic taste of China, exit 23 off the Long Island Expressway is the gateway to soup dumplings, pork buns and hot pots. Those in the know descend into the basement of the Golden Shopping Mall on Main Street in Flushing; there, in all of its cramped glory, eaters will find hand-pulled noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods and Lanzhou Handmade Noodle, as well as a lamb noodle dish unlike any other at Guizhou Beef and Lamb Rice Noodle Restaurant.
Meanwhile, outside the mall on Main Street sits the slightly dingy White Bear, which many aficionados say serves the best dumplings in all of New York City.
The legit Chinese restaurants of Flushing seem to be spilling over the border into Nassau County, with eateries broadening their menus to satisfy Long Islanders’ expanding palates. Pearl East in Manhasset caters to Gold Coast taste with universal Chinese food but also serves an extensive dim sum menu, along with Bejing Duck. Celebrate Chinese New Year at Pearl East this year with a traditional lion dance and a special banquet menu Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.
In New Hyde Park, the master of traditional Sichuan food is Chef Wang on Jericho Turnpike, which turns up the heat with mouth-numbing dishes like diced chicken with chili pepper corn, cow belly and throat in hot chili oil and a fried whole tilapia with spicy bean sauce. Other local favorites include Fortune Wheel in Levittown and The Orient in Bethpage.
Whether taking the trip to Flushing or keeping it local on Long Island, the Year of the Rooster will give Chinese cuisine lovers plenty to crow about.