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MoCA Asian Bistro in Woodbury: First bites

Bok choy-wrapped sea bass rolls are one of

Bok choy-wrapped sea bass rolls are one of the appetizers at MoCa Asian Bistro in Woodbury, February 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

When MoCA Asian Bistro opened in Hewlett in 2007, Asian fusion was an up-and-coming trend. It delighted and intrigued Long Islanders with its greatest-hits approach to Asian cooking: Chinese dumplings, Japanese sushi, Thai noodle dishes, plenty of mango sauce and assorted things on skewers.

Seven years later, Asian Fusion shows no sign of letting up, and it's increasingly difficult to get excited about this crowd-pleasing Epcot of a cuisine. Certainly MoCA’s newest venture, in the old Woodbury digs of Nisen, is better looking than most of its ilk and, on a recent visit, service was top notch. But much of the food had a dutiful, by-the-book quality.

The hit among our appetizers was Jericho shrimp, fried balls of chopped shrimp each with a little nugget of foie gras embedded in it. Bok choy-wrapped sea bass rolls seemed a pale, watery rendition of a similar dish served at Toku in Manhasset. The thick skins of the shrimp dumplings contained an unpleasantly pasty filling.

Waiters paraded by our table bearing elaborate sushi-scapes of fish, twigs, orchids and banana leaves. We ordered some relatively sedate rolls and nigiri sushi (pieces of fish draped over nubbins of rice) in order to assess the quality of the fish. It was OK, nothing special.

However, I really enjoyed my Peking-style duck — a make-your-own-sandwich affair of roasted duck, tender steamed buns, sliced cucumber and scallion, hoisin sauce.

We were informed that desserts were not made in house, but we were still not prepared for a “pineapple upside-down cake” that was little more than a gummy ring of fruit soldered to a snack-cake bottom. “Hazelnut truffle,” “a core of dark chocolate embraced by our velvety hazelnut gelato, covered in praline hazelnut and meringue,” turned out to be a scoop of faintly flavored ice cream rolled in chopped nuts.

MoCA Asian Bistro is at 7967 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, 516-496-7000.

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