Sunday, September 12, 2010

Long Island, Not Rhode Island (For Once)

It amazes me when people who live in this country have no idea that Rhode Island is a state. I mean, really! Fifth grade, people!  I don't know about you, but that's when I learned all the states, their capitals, their locations, etc.  The point is this... in the past when people have asked me where I was from, and I responded with "Rhode Island," quite a few of them would say, "Long Island?" Um, did I stutter? "No, Rhode Island.  It's a state." "Oh..." Seriously, wow.

Well, since I'm currently staying in Long Island until I find something closer to the city (help a girl out, people.  I know you know someone, who knows someone, who has a room I can rent. There's 8.4 million people here... someone needs to have a spare room, right?) I thought I would talk about it.  Not like you care.  I mean, it's not as exciting as Manhattan. Or is it?

No, it's really not, I'm just testing you.  But I did spend the day in one of my favorite parts of Long Island (and that's probably not saying a lot because of been to a total of, like, 5 towns in Long Island in my whole life), but of those this is my favorite area :)  It's the whole Port Washington, Manhasset, Great Neck business not too far from Queens, and yet right on the Northern shore of Long Island.  The area is expensive, has incredible homes, and really great seaside spots.  I attended a super lame Italian Festival in Port Washington with a friend in the area, followed by a much less lame Renaissance Fair at the Sands Point Preserve, former home of Mr. Guggenheim (yeah, that museum guy!), and finally a super delicious Asian dinner in Great Neck.

Renaissance Fair at Sands Point Reserve

Guggenheim's Former Residence

The Castle :)

Pig on a Spit, haha

Elaine's Asian Bistro and Grill
8 Bond St # 3
Great Neck, NY 11021
(516) 829-8883

When my friend suggested to go to Elaine's for dinner, I had no idea it would be modern Asian fusion restaurant.  The name just doesn't suggest that at all.  When we arrived and I saw the bright red seeping out of the tiny entrance, I knew this was a diamond in the rough.  The doorway is small and unassuming, but once you enter, the space is vast and decorated with bamboo, Asian writing on the walls, lots of plants, and speckled with red all over.  The interior was very soothing and inviting, and I was even more excited when I saw the menu.  For one thing, they have a great deal for all days but Saturday (sucks for us) for a prix-fixe dinner (4 courses for $24.07).  Even without partaking in that deal, their menu is extensive and sounds so delicious.  Prices are so reasonable compared to similar spots in the city.  We ordered a TON of food, cocktails, and still spent less than $80 on our meal.

We both had cocktails, a mango one for my friend, and a lychee martini for myself.  It was really good!  I had never had one before, but I will definitely be ordering lychee martinis from now on! Watch out NY :) I started my meal with the chicken hot and sour soup, which was perfect.  I wouldn't have changed a thing.  It was heavier on tofu than chicken, but all of it was delicious, the mushrooms were perfect, totally spot on.

Chicken Hot and Sour Soup $3 

Next we split some sushi!  We had the special roll of the day, called The Royal Caribbean.  It too was lovely.  Spicy tuna and crunch inside, salmon and tobiko outside, served with spicy mayo.  Melt in your mouth, exquisite quality fish. My only complaint is that the "spicy" mayo wasn't that spicy, but that crunchy element really took this roll over the edge.  Sushi restaurants take note. I love the addition of crunchy tempura bits or other "crunch" added to my sushi.  Raw fish is soft.  So is rice.  Let's make it interesting!  Add some crunch ;-)

The Royal Caribbean $14 

We also shared some sesame noodles, which could be prepared cold or hot.  I personally love cold sesame noodles, and have made them on several occasions in the past.  The version here was a lot more peanut heavy than mine, but it was really good regardless.  It was simply garnished with some batonnets of cucumber.  We easily polished this off as well :)

Sesame Noodles $5 

For our entrees, my friend chose the crispy sesame Hunan chicken, while I chose the Thai chicken curry.  Hers was very good.  The chicken was lightly breaded, unlike some of the thickly battered, overly greasy sesame chicken dishes I've had in the past.  The sauce was a great balance of tangy and sweet.  I would order this dish in the future.  My Thai chicken curry included fresh Japanese eggplant, mushrooms, beans, and red bell pepper.  I loved that the vegetables (with the exception of the soft eggplant, of course) were cooked al dente.  Texture is vital, and there are few things worse than mushy, overcooked vegetables.  These had a great, vibrant color, and good texture.  The curry sauce itself was good, but not great.  It wasn't at all a traditional Thai curry that I've had before, but considering this is a higher end, Asian fusion spot, I didn't expect this to be down-home-cooking.  I also wish they had thought to bring out a plate for me to put my rice on and then pour some curry over it.  I hated putting the rice into the curry, but didn't want to ask for a plate.  Really, I shouldn't have to.  They should have thought of that one themselves.  Do other people put the rice into the curry?  I can't imagine they would.  In any case, It was tasty, but certainly not my favorite dish of the evening.

Crispy Sesame Hunan Chicken $13 

Thai Chicken Curry $14 

All in all, I was very pleased with my visit to Elaine's!  If I lived closer, I would frequent this spot for sure!  If you're ever in Great Neck and want some delicious Asian fusion cuisine, great ambiance and service, eat here!  It will be money well spent.


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