by Su-Jit Lin | Islip is fast emerging as a hot destination among Long Island’s downtowns with the opening of yet another trendy restaurant last week.

On Monday, Sept. 26, Mango Tango Asian Fusion joined the ranks of must-try restaurants on the Main Street strip, flanked by old favorites and new.

Nearly a year’s worth of renovations went into the storefront at the corner of Main Street and Union Avenue.

Former patrons of Vege Favor — the vegetarian fast-casual stir-fry restaurant that once did business there — will find much changed.

Although the layout remains largely the same, the atmosphere has undergone a total transformation. Gone is the airy, organic-inspired California feel. Instead, modern finishes with dark wood and stone elements and glowing lights give off a contemporary evening vibe.

The semi-open kitchen and main counter is now a sushi bar, sparkling under drop lighting and glowing from deep blue underlighting. In addition, a full bar has been installed, with a wide selection of spirits and premium liquors for signature cocktails.

Accompanying the house drinks is a long list of specialty sushi rolls developed just for Mango Tango by its chefs.

“We worked very closely with our sushi chefs to make these special combinations,” said owner Anna Zhang. “We are not just sushi, though.”

The diverse and creative menu is a testament to that.

The wide range of flavors represented on the menu is drawn from multiple influences. For one, Anna, her husband and partner, Alan, and primary chefs all live in Flushing, Queens — the crossroads of Asian cuisine. There, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, and other ethnic foods are wonderfully represented in truly authentic fashion.

Another part of that equation is the Zhangs’ previous experience in Asian fusion dining. They had previously been a part of Asian Moon in Massapequa Park. There, they specialized in “Asian cuisine with a modern twist.”

However, the Zhangs were ready to branch out on their own, and saw a need in the Islip community for an upscale, contemporary Asian restaurant.

“We want to provide Flushing-quality food in a trendy environment,” Anna said.

What that means to her and her partners is offering new-age recipes with roots in old-fashioned traditions. For instance, on the menu are “Red China” southern Chinese classics tossed in light brown and Szechuan sauces made in-house.

Another example is the dumplings on the Kitchen Starters appetizer menu.

“All of the dumplings—vegetable, pork, shu mai, dim sum, duck, Szechuan—are all made here by hand,” Anna said with pride.

if you go

As an Asian fusion restaurant, Mango Tango places equal emphasis on kitchen-fired entrees, offering such dishes as:

  • Fire Wok, a coconut curry-based dish featuring lobster, scallops, and shrimp with lemongrass and fresh Thai lime leaves
  • Four Seasons, a hot shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, and mixed vegetable selection served with spicy brown rice
  • Crispy Duck, a novel duck main served with mixed greens
  • Thai Mango Sauce, which showcases mango, jicama, basil, and pepper with the diner’s choice of meat
  • Indonesian Samba, based on a sauce created with ground shrimp paste, chili pepper accents, and mixed vegetables

Reviews have already been positive, and a competitive lunch menu that includes soup or salad plus rice for non-starchy mains make a midday meal an affordable test run at $8 – $15. For dinner, noodle and rice dishes like pad Thai, fried rice, and udon are $10 – 12.

Entrees begin at $13 and top out at $23 for exotic seafood and surf-and-turf options. Sushi boats are available as well as basic hand rolls that are priced as low as $3.50, making this new upscale restaurant a fit for a wide range of date-night budgets.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. except for Sundays. Evening service is offered until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Free delivery is also available for orders of $15 and up.