Mermaid Asian Bistro & Bar

846 Portion Rd. Ronkonkoma, NY 631-588-8885

There's fire and nuance in the red curry

(Credit: Newsday/Joan Reminick)

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Type: Sushi, Japanese Price range: $$ (Moderate) Description:

Mermaid Asian Bistro in Ronkonkoma jumps into a Long Island restaurant pool already swimming with hybrid Asian dining spots. Working to keep this mermaid afloat are caring servers and skilled chefs -- Tom Chen behind the nearly hidden sushi bar and at the kitchen wok, Sam Gao

Hours: Lunch, Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 12:30 to 3 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Thursday 3 to 9:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 to 10:30 p.m., Sunday 2 to 9:45 p.m. Ambience: Fair Service: Good Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible.
Mermaid Asian Bistro and Bar's spicy red curry.

Mermaid Asian Bistro and Bar's spicy red curry. (Jan. 27, 2013) (Credit: Johnny Simon)

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Mermaid Asian Bistro jumps into a Long Island restaurant pool already swimming with hybrid Asian dining spots. Working to keep this mermaid afloat are caring servers and skilled chefs -- Tom Chen behind the nearly hidden sushi bar and at the kitchen wok, Sam Gao.

Inside the rather dark dining room, fronted by a large expanse of plate glass, you may find yourself reaching for your coat one night, shedding it another. Considerately, hot tea is proffered and frequently replenished. For another winter warmer, get the steaming, savory wonton soup with delicate -- if slightly overcooked -- dumplings. Shrimp tom yum soup is appropriately hot and sour, the shellfish ideally cooked.

As a starter, you'll want to try the light, crunchy rock shrimp tempura drizzled with spicy mayo -- a fusion classic. Overtones of Peking duck inform the warm, winning Asian duck roll.

From the sushi bar comes the layered raw fish construct called sushi cake French style: tuna, salmon, avocado, spicy tuna and eel, somehow combining well. The equally baroque crazy dragon roll -- pepper-seared tuna, asparagus, avocado and mango -- works, too. Simple and classic: pristinely fresh yellowtail with bright jalapeƱo in yuzu sauce.

An otherwise fine sushi entree of well-cut finfish over ovals of rice would be improved by serving the rice at room temperature. An artistic fillip: multicolored sauces "paint" the plate in the shape of branches with flowers.

While an ample serving of shrimp teriyaki is very good, the tofu teriyaki proves sensational, its crisp, almost candied coating overlaying an unctuously creamy interior. Impressive that a red curry with chicken, requested hot-hot-hot, comes out both fiery and nuanced. But Thai basil chicken, ordered the same way another time, turns up mega-mild.

One way to conclude is with bubble tea, filled with tapioca balls, to be sipped through a wide straw. The tea may be had warm or cold, in a variety of flavors such as black tea, passion fruit and coconut -- something you won't find at every other Asian fusion restaurant on Long Island.

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Mermaid Asian Bistro & Bar 846 Portion Rd., Ronkonkoma

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