Chinese restaurants around the world ushered in the Chinese New Year today with traditional Chinese New Year’s dinner. And tonight, the Chinese Quest ventured to one of the oldest established Chinese restaurants on all of Long Island. Like, the Chinese Quest, which has been reviewing Chinese restaurants for nearly a fiftieth of a century, the Palace of Wong in Rockville Centre has been a staple of the community for nearly fifty years!
Palace of Wong is located at:
348 Sunrise Highway
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Our server this evening was Kevin, who was thrilled when we spoke nearly fluent Chinese in wishing him Gung Hay Fat Choy! But, quickly we got down the point and spoke the language we could all relate to… food! Chinese food! And in particular, we wanted a traditional Chinese New Year’s banquet. What we got, I would say wasn’t the typical dishes one would normally associate with Chinese New Year’s, but there were some good dishes amongst their offerings.
We dropped a few names here and there, and before you know it, the owner David was soon at our table to greet us and make sure that we were well taken care of. David, as we understand it, is the son of the original owner. We may have our facts wrong here… but, it makes for a better story.
As we sat down, as he often does, Mee Tsu Yan had presents for each of us. The traditional gift given at Chinese New Year’s, Hung Bao’s, or Red Envelopes. Each contained a crisp $5 bill. Mee Tsu Yan is clearly well aware of his Chinese traditions as he got brand new, crisp, bills. We agreed to pool our money and purchase lottery tickets. Hey, these have to be lucky. Should we win, this may be the last review we ever write. Ok, ok… don’t all be standing and clapping at once, now, ok?
Not to be outdone, Mee Yong Joo, also showing off his keen cultural acumen, surprised us all with red shirts! Red, the traditional lucky Chinese color, and the color to wear on Chinese New Year’s… and of course, the color of the Red Envelopes! Thank you Mee Yong Joo and Mee Tsu Yan!
Before we got to the meat of our meal (no pun intended), we insisted that we start off with our traditional appetizer, spareribs. And, I must say, these were some of the best spareribs we’ve ever had. Though perhaps a little salty (which wasn’t apparent from the first bite), they were very meaty, very moist, and the sauce was just right. Not too sweet, but sweet enough. A great start! We were on our way!
To whet our whistle so we could be better understood for when we actually had anything of interest to say, we ordered a few traditional drinks to go with a traditional meal, of course. Plus, I had to sneak these words in here just so I could post a picture of the Mai Tai and the, umm, other festive looking drink. Tsingtao Beer was had by those who prefer a nice authentic Chinese beer, and white wine for the other Mee, who just wanted to be different tonight.
Then we got down to business. First we started off with a traditional Chinese New Year’s Winter Melon Soup, which contained Shrimp, Chicken, and Crab meat. I found the soup to be a little bland. But, that didn’t stop me from having a second bowl. I really liked the chow mein noodles that they served. And though we’d rather focus on the food, we did manage to finish quite a few bowls of the chow mein noodles. The duck sauce was quite good for dipping too.
Five dishes were then brought to our table at the same time:
Crispy Walnut Shrimp – Shrimp with mayonnaise and served with broccoli and shrimp toast. Normally, not a fan of any dish with mayonnaise, this shrimp was most excellent. Very nice taste. A good choice.
House Special Fried Rice (Yong Chow Fried Rice) – This I found to be very dry, and not appealing. The white rice, I must say was perfectly fine. I didn’t find anything particularly special about this fried rice.
Special Chicken (“Just for us”) – This chicken was slightly fried according to David, and it was made “just for us”. I don’t think he knew who we were. And if they did, they put on a good act not to treat us any differently. But, this chicken WAS special. If you don’t find it on the menu. Ask for it. And if your server doesn’t know what you’re asking for, then ask for David. And tell them The Chinese Quest told you to!
Roast Pork with Chinese Vegetables and Mushrooms – I fear this pork might have been around since their grand opening. Very dry. The vegetables were fine.
Dessert was a very special Chinese New Year’s offering. A plate of sweet sliced oranges and almond cookies. AND, a huge ice cream platter with scoops of pistachio, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream, pineapple chunks, and cherry (red, of course, for Chinese New Year’s!) jello. The jello, and I don’t say this lightly, was THE best jello I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t know what they did, but it hit the spot. I loved the pistachio ice cream too. And, I don’t usually go for pistachio ice cream.
It was a fitting dessert and a happy ending to an enjoyable meal. Enough so, that we said “NO CARVEL!”. Sorry Carvel! I’m sure you’ll get our business next time. But, for this time, the Palace of Wong was our just desserts.
We also received one fortune cookie each. Trust me on this one, they were really good fortunes! Yes, you know what comes next… I left the fortunes on the table. I did write down one, for Mee Tsu Yan wanted to keep his fortune. This is what his said:
A well fed romance nourishes the soul.
I wish you could have read the others… they too would have brought tears to your eyes.
Here is our rating of Palace of Wong:
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)