Opera House

Opera House
(516) 484-7456, Roslyn Heights


The words Asian fusion are magic on Long Island. (Small plates are also). The Opera House in Roslyn Heights, like every other new Asian restaurant calls itself Asian Fusion. There are Chinese, Japanese, a few Korean, Malaysian and Thai dishes, but almost none of them are fused or combined with one another.

The Opera House, just south of the LIE on Willis Avenue is a building that obviously was once a Howard Johnson’s before it became To Fu. It bills itself as a sushi-Asian-fusion-lounge and indeed upon entering there is a long sushi bar and some smiling sushi chefs who welcome newcomers. Inside are two sizable dining rooms both with discrete, calming ceiling lighting, bare tables and floors. The first is a spare, Spartan, barely decorated affair but the one farther in has a wall of interesting, appropriately Asian pottery and art-studded walls.

The dinner menu is huge—too huge to itemize here. Service is sweet but far from refined. The smiling young women no doubt mean well but were clueless about who ordered each of the dishes they were delivering. Used silverware wasn’t replaced and dishes arrived on a staggered basis, usually three for four diners, then after a substantial wait the fourth would appear.

Yet, warts and all, most of the food was satisfying, some of it even better than that. Starters sampled: Six or seven thin, crisp, pie-shaped pieces of scallion pancake ($5); a fresh snappy Japanese green seaweed salad ($5); four duck wraps or rice pancakes stuffed with minced duck and scallions ($9) and a sensational circular, small pizza-sized king crab tortilla replete with an oddly satisfying amalgam of king crab, guacamole, caviar and a mild scallion spicy sauce that provided a welcome subtle kick ($15).

The Opera House special roll topped with pepper tuna, avocado and caviar that harbored king crab was tempered and enhanced by its honey wasabi sauce ($17). The moist, even juicy Thai crispy duck was, as with most of the entrées, appealingly presented in a fanned out configuration ($17). The sweet miso glazed Chilean sea bass, with Asian baby greens was a pristine, ivory hued piece of fish that tasted as good as it looked ($24). But the timidly seasoned Singapore Mei Fun noodles lacked any of the spiciness listed on the menu and very little of the promised curry flavor as well ($12).

Desserts were a downer, especially if you don’t opt for the many (or most) that focus on ice cream. Avoid the large, hard, overly dense chocolate brownie ($7) and the nothing-special fried cheesecake ($5). After that it’s all ice cream and sorbet in one guise or another.

Photos by Stephen Lang

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.