Soon to be six years, and over sixty five Chinese restaurants later, this Quest has become quite the journey. Our quintet has turned a simple idea of finding the best Chinese food on Long Island and NYC, into a monthly excuse to go out and (hopefully) enjoy a good meal while laughing until we cry! I have learned so much about one of my most favorite cuisines, while educating others about the latest in Chinese food. These are exciting times to be a Chinese food eating “Member of the Tribe“.
December 2018 has landed us in Deer Park, LI. Newly opened F-A-N Chinese Restaurant, located at 534 Commack Road specializes in authentic Szechuan food. The space is small, nicely decorated, and the English speaking waitstaff are friendly and helpful. The night we were there had a nice mix of Chinese and Caucasian customers. It is always comforting to see Chinese patrons in a Chinese restaurant! The word “fan” in Chinese is pronounced “fahn” and means eat or meal. Other examples in Chinese are “chi fan” or to eat, “wan fan” or supper , and “fan dian” or restaurant. Although the menu is quite large and diverse, this restaurant specializes in Szechuan which equates to SPICY. We ordered both spicy and regular dishes, with most being quite good. This place might become my “GO TO” takeout, since I live close to Deer Park. As a side note, my FAV takeout is Yim’s in Syosset, but that is an article for another day.
We met for drinks at Texas Roadhouse in the same shopping center as the restaurant. I am a firm believer that us Long Islanders need not ever eat in chain restaurants, but the drinks were nice and cheap, and the food looked pretty good. Once we were all assembled and properly imbibed, we set out for the short walk to F-A-N. The restaurant is BYOB, so Brother Mee V Stooges picked up two bottles of wine to enjoy with dinner. The liquor store is conveniently located in the same center. We were off to the races!
For starters we ordered the SNOW MOUNTAIN SWEET AND SOUR SPARE RIBS. The ribs were small bite size pieces of pork on the bone with a sweet maple flavor that dominated the sour. Small amounts of powdered sugar were sprinkled on the top giving it the “snow mountain” look. They were way too sweet for me, and I will always prefer the traditional spare rib from Sunday nights gone by. Another starter was the STEAMED JUICY BUNS. I guess this is their version of soup dumplings. They were kind of greyish in color, dry, and the meat was too sweet. The dumplings totally missed the mark for me. There are many other places to enjoy this wonderful dish! The last appetizer was THIN SLICED SEA CLAMS WITH HOT CHILI OIL. The clams were sinus clearing spicy. Cut into long pieces of rubbery goodness with chili oil and scallions, yum yum!
For the main event, we ordered STEAMED GINGER AND SCALLION FLOUNDER FISH FILLET. Great clean, light fish dish. It was served with bok choy, ginger, scallions, cilantro, and soy sauce. I would highly recommend the fish, worth a reorder. The SPICY CUMIN SLICED LAMB LEG WITH RED DRIED PEPPER was not as spicy as other cumin lamb that I have had. The flavor was bold with a lot going on in the plate. I am not a huge cumin lover, but it certainly was robust.
Another dish was the GREEN SCALLION SAUCE EGG FRIED RICE. I really enjoyed the rice! It is a quite different take on fried rice. The rice is green and has a lovely scallion flavor. Cannot wait to go back and have it again. The SAUTEED BABY BOK CHOY was really not needed, we had it in the fish dish. OK, nothing special. I had it better prepared in other establishments.
The final plate was GINGER AND PEPPER BEER BRAISED CHICKEN. It was prepared with whole pieces of garlic, peppers, and an extremely hot sauce. This one made the sweat pour out of my bald ass head!! I wish I could tolerate spice better, I do love the taste, but it surely does not love me. We went a different route for dessert. Normally, we would make a stop by Tom Carvel’s place, but this night we stayed put and ordered the fried ice cream. I would have preferred the Carvels. I can hear Tom now with that raspy voice saying ” I told you so”.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this restaurant. Typically, a Chinese place in a Long Island strip center in a suburban area would not be this authentic, but like the song says, “the times are a changing”. Great Chinese food is popping up everywhere. I often hear from people that they tend to avoid eating Chinese because it is not a healthy meal. Nothing could be further from the truth. The old standard “Chinese” fare with heavy sauces and too much frying and MSG are falling by the wayside. Authentic Chinese is as healthy as it is delicious. On this Quest, I found a love for Chinese food with greatly prepared vegetables, and light, tasty sauces. You have to get out there and discover the brilliance of Chinese cooking.
Don’t forget “if you see something, say something”, please let us know when you discover a new place!
All for now,
Mee Tsu Yan