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Chung Do: Don’t judge a new book by its old cover

It looks like Little Tokyo. There has not been a renovation, inside or out. That's okay with me. I'd recommend that you come early so that you're practically the only one there and can immerse your self in the East.

Ah, but where to sit? The sushi counter with each seat numbered and a "lobster" tank with flat flounders resting on the bottom? By the bar? At one of the tables behind the carved wooden divider that's moved about to meet the seating requirements?

Note the leafy qreen trees viewed through the window behind the sushi counter, and note the array of Japanese red maples out front. Incidentally, the table beneath the umbrella seems to be where smokers congregate between rounds of sushi.

The socko item on China Do's menu is the sashimi tray, served different from all others. I would have liked to join the neighboring party of seven, two Korean families with young teens. They so relished their fan-shaped wooden tray of sashimi with dish after dish of accompaniments brought to the table.

It was only when I later sleuthed out the most popular menu items that I learned, sashimi here is served with a marvelous array of side dishes: Broiled seafood, fresh oysters, whiting, grilled eel, house salad, Korean pancake, hot bubbling scrambled eggs. It runs from $39 for the small to $59 for the medium, $69 for the large and $125 for the special.

Once this place had been Chinese takeout with lobster egg foo yung. Now Japanese sushi is everywhere. You can even go to a supermarket and pick up a tray. Will Korean takeout be the next wave? With Korean, there's not only the item you ordered but soup, salad and the kimchi relishes like braised cold watercress, wonderfully seasoned bean sprouts, kimchi, of course (and edible here without a firehose handy), rice and chopsticks. No tea, though. At sit-down, a thick, amber plastic glass of hot Korean tea is brought to you. It's delightfully different and if you come in to place a takeout order, get some.

I did a lunchtime takeout: Sushi (hand molded rolls with well-seasoned rice, fish-topped - especially good), a codfish casserole that was very soup-like, kimchi jigye (pickled cabbage casserole in a a choice of sauces). The very soft soy casserole (also soup-like) was excellent. I especially liked the pencil-thick noodles, pencil length, in broth with bits of seafood. But it was the extras - salad, kimchi, etc. - that made it a to-go adventure.

While waiting for my order, I wandered over to the refrigerated case and looked over the bottles of Korean wine. I knew I had to have Bek Se Ju. It's said "Drink it and you'll live 100 years." I had just planted three outrageously expensive clumps of bamboo and I want to live a while to see them four-feet wide. Bek Se Ju, golden yellow in a frosted bottle with a cream colored label - a traditional Korean white wine - is served well-chilled.

My sit-down meal at Chung Do began with a quite sensational appetizer that would work well, Eastern or or Western. It was an inch-thick roll of cold tuna, seared outside and red inside. Quarter-inch thick slices were fanned out beside a delicious bit of sesame-seeded seaweed salad. Chung Do features teriyaki platters - chicken, salmon, seafood and eel - in teriyaki sauce. Mine was assorted fresh fish with broccoli bits, carrots and mushrooms braised in teriyaki sauce. It was so-so. Order the broiled chicken or salmon (and I do like eel which is also broiled). Stick with them. Of course there was soup and salad and the kimchi assortment. Dessert? Chung Do does not even stock green tea ice cream. It's an orange half. Exclamation point.

The Bottom Line

Korean-style Japanese restaurant. (Formerly Little Tokyo.) Their special: Sashimi tray - from small to "special" - with side dish after side dish including pancakes. Nice service. Korean wines.

Chung Do

232-20 Northern Blvd. Douglaston


Chef's Choice

Sashimi (with side dishes: grilled seafood, whiting & eel, fresh oysters, scrambled egg casserole, pancake)...S $39.95, M $59, L $69, xxL $79, $89, $105, Sp $125

Sushi & Sashimi...$49.95

Dae-Gu Mae Un Tang (codfish steamed with vegetables in a spicy broth)...$10.05

Chicken Teriyaki Platter...$14.95

Shrimp Tempura...$16.95

Cuisine: Korean-style Japanese

Setting: Japanese inn

Service: Very nice

Open: D 7 days. L Mon - Fri

Parking: Lot in front, weekend valet

Location: Opposite golf range

Dress: Casual

Children: Share

Credit cards: All major

Private parties: None

Off-premise catering: Yes

Noise level: Fri and Sat. noisy

Handicap access: Yes

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