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We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift, that is focusing as much on the restaurant itself as on the presentation of authentic Chinese food. Deng Ji now represents the third new Chinese Restaurant to open on Long Island that goes to extraordinary lengths to make your dining experience feel luxurious. They follow the path trailblazed by O Mandarin and Jiang Nan. Deng Ji imported wood, like O Mandarin, to frame the restaurant, and make you feel like you are almost eating outdoors. It doesn’t appear that any expense was spared. From the high quality of the menus to the art on the walls, AND in the bathrooms.
Deng Ji is located at 2949 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY 11756. If the address sounds familiar it’s because in that strip used to be Shanghai Gourmet, and Hunan Dynasty. When searching for it you may find it under two additional names, Deng Ji China Famous Food 邓记云南过桥米线, as it appears in Google Search, or Deng Ji Yunnan Guoqiao Mixian as it appears on the restaurant itself, though it will look like this: With all of the words concatenated into one super long name, that would guarantee you Scrabble victory, word dominance if you could somehow manage to squeeze it in, and real tongue twister if you give it a try.
Officially, this is “Deng Ji VI”. For those of you who paid attention in elementary school, “VI” is the Roman number 6. One of their other locations is in Flushing, NY. You can search for the others as they are outside of our jurisdiction.
Deng Ji, Levittown, NY
Look at the fine attention to detail. On each table is this caddy of different oils, powders, notions, toothpicks (which will be needed after eating two of the skewers we will get to shortly, a call button (red on white image in the upper right-hand corner of the picture on the right right below (I made up my own tongue twister for you):
(as always, click on any picture to view full-size)
The luxurious feel of the leather-bound menu presents mouthwatering images of many of their dishes:
Enough of the overture, it’s time to get on with the review. Let’s see if Deng Ji has the chops to compete with Long Island’s very best. Deng Ji, show us what you got!
Leading off, let’s go out to the streets for typical street-food you would find in the Yunnan Province. Skewers! Note: You pay per skewer, and most skewers not only had lots on them, but were also less than $2.00 each! Beef Skewers – Please note that they customize the spiciness of any of their dishes. We had half spicy and half mild. We got our first taste of Yunnan cuisine with their light use of cumin. The amount used didn’t overwhelm the dish, and we found the beef was very tender and tasty.
Corn on the Cob and Cauliflower Skewers – Two different orders combined served on one platter. I can only speak of the corn on the cob, which again was lightly seasoned with cumin, and was really delicious. I could have eaten all three corn-on-the-cob skewers!
We also had two orders of Scallion Pancakes. These disappointed. They were very thin, and thin on flavor or presence. There was nothing to these. You couldn’t taste the scallions, which were very underwhelming. This was the dish that three Mee V. Stoogas off the rails, and set his mood for the rest of the meal. All this is clearly reflected in his rating. If only they had scallion pancakes with sliced beef on their menu. That hoisin sauce can make a winner of any dish that it’s on. I love me my hoisin sauce!! Though the appy’s filled us up nicely, we had to delve into the menu pages which contained entrees.
Pineapple Fried Rice – We loved that it was served in an actual pineapple, the pieces of pineapple removed from the cone were used in the fried rice. Looks can be deceiving, and we thought there wasn’t much to this dish and it wouldn’t be enough to share amongst us five. But there was. This was so so rice. I have had pineapple fried rice in other restaurants, notably Thai restaurants, that blow this one out of the cooker.
Vegetable Chow Fun – We found out where they used the leftover scallions. In this dish!! I don’t know that I would classify this dish as an entree per se. I’d say it was more of a side piece to accompany an entree. Perhaps a little disappointing was this chow fun.
Spare Ribs Rice Noodle (L2) – With the emphasis clearly on “spare”, there were some tiny ribs that drowned in the soup, sapping away any flavor from them. The noodles were nice. This was a dish meant for one, but we managed to ladle out five servings. For me, that was enough of this dish. …
Before posting our rating, as this is one of the factors that go into ratings, the cleanliness, attention to detail, and presentation, added to our visual appeal the Objet d’art found throughout the restaurant was even found in the bathroom. Now I know where our squirrel went (sorry, this is an insider reference to the discussion forum I created way back called “Where’s Our Squirrel”. I feel like I need to create it again. It was so much fun!)
It should also be mentioned that we got all of these dishes, three bottles of beer, one coke, water, and the most delicious hibiscus tea, including tax, was less than $100.00. You may want to add Deng Ji and get either an assortment of skewers and/or one of the noodle soups that would make a very delicious meal.
Pro Tip: When you buy five skewers, you get another for free.
Furthermore, it should be mentioned that our server seemed very disinterested in serving us. Perhaps it was a bit of a language barrier or maybe he was just having an off day. I just wish it wasn’t on our dime. We did get the attention of another server who was much more helpful in recommending some dishes, in good English, and with a beaming smile that was always on her face.
Overall, an “average” Chinese restaurant.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)