Elected officials were on hand Saturday for the grand opening of Ting, a new Asian-fusion restaurant at the former home of Dao, on East Main Street near Fort Hill in Huntington.
Leading the way was newly elected Rep. Grace Cheng (6th CD) of Queens, and Supervisor Frank Petrone, who did the honors by cutting the ribbon for the new business.
Also on hand were State Assemb. Andrew Raia, Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer, Northport village trustee Thomas Kehoe, retired Suffolk County Police Chief Robert Moore and Huntington Housing Authority head Robert Fonti.
“It’s great to have this place open for business,” said Petrone in prepared remarks. “And more importantly, it’s a family operation. We’re committed to family in Huntington.”
Petrone was on the money with the comment. Ting, located in what has been the site of a Chinese restaurant at 92 East Main going back to Empire days, is the latest effort of the Zheng family -- in particular Yu Mei Zheng, manager of the restaurant.
“This is my first restaurant, but my family is in the food distribution business,” she explained. “And my staff has plenty of experience - my manager has been in restaurants for 20 years.”
Ting is heir to a devoted group of diners who have grown accustomed to the traditional Chinese fare to be found there. “We will continue to have some of that,” said Mei. “But we also have Asian fusion. Japanese sushi bar. Thai dishes. Malaysian sambal sauce. Filet mignon. The head chef and sous chef have background in Italian cooking. So we will mix it up a lot.”
And Ting is also likely to benefit from a reputation as a community type restaurant. “Everybody who comes in seems to say they live ‘right up the block’,” says “Everyone seems to know each other. People walk in and say hi to someone already in the dining room. “
The grand opening was rich with ceremony and decorative flair. Cold December winds whipped flags and grand opening balloons placed strategically around the parking lot and building, and kept members of the Golden Lion Club of NYC -- called in to do a special Lion Dance for the occasion -- bundled up while they waited their turn.
There was also an unexplained head of lettuce hanging at the front entrance, which turned out to be part of the Lion Dance ceremony. It seems that according to custom, it is the job of the crew of gongs, drums, cymbals and costumed men and women in Chinese lion outfits to chase away evil spirits from an establishment. The lettuce is hung at the door to attract the lions, and once inside, they rid the establishment of bad spirits while searching for more greens to eat.
“The lions aren’t carnivores, they’re vegetarians,“ explained a dancer from the troupe, which hails from Chinatown in Manhattan. “Finding the greens symbolizes the notion that, with determination, an individual can overcome any obstacle -- like the new owners of the restaurant.”
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