The much-anticipated Chinese restaurant Cinnabar opens in Massapequa

Cinnabar Massapequa

Elevated Chinese has arrived in Massapequa in the form of Cinnabar.

Cinnabar is the latest endeavor from Cathy Ren and her team (Izakaya Nana, Himitsu, Siam Thai, The Attic, Tavern 157, Baohub), and the first of their portfolio east of Flushing.

And Cinnabar delivers on all the signature traits Ren’s establishments are known for.

“Cinnabar is all about creating moments for people over new tastes and new food experiences,” she told Greater Long Island at her soft opening on Thursday.

She brings her expertise to deliver an immersive and encompassing experience for everyone, whether you are perched on a red stool at the bar, at a big table in the main dining room or cosied up in a bird cage booth with your love interest.

The intention here is a new interpretation of traditional Chinese food and culture, all demonstrated on small plates, larger entrees for sharing and delicious and beautifully executed specialty drinks and cocktails. 

What’s it all about?

This is not your typical Chinese, and thank goodness because Long Island needed an infusion of Asian authenticity.

All your favorite dishes can be found at Cinnabar, but somehow everything seems new again. Cinnabar is exciting both from a culinary standpoint and from a visual experiential perspective. With 22 foot soaring ceilings, 5,500 square feet of varied table and dining options and space for 165.

Ready to order?

The lychee shrimp lollipops arrive looking every bit as beautiful as an elegant floral arrangement; take a photo, have a dunk in the sweet and sour sauce and then eat them.

The jellyfish salad is nothing of what your preconceived ideas may inform, it is instead reminiscent of hijiki and marvelously fragrant with cilantro and lime. The Dandan noodles, long ribbons of noodles bathing in Szechuan chili, nutty sesame and sautéed Chinese cabbage and topped with crispy minced pork, were as close to perfect as I have tried outside of Asia.

These starters are all good to share and enjoy with one of their personality forward cocktails (think assertive flavors and beautiful presentations!) like a lychee martini, a blood orange Cinna-Margarita or the spicy Crazy Rich Asians made with mezcal, passionfruit and jalapeno.

Sushi rolls named after the Taoist cosmology concepts of Earth, water, fire, metal, and wood are big and complex in ingredients, textures and flavors. For main courses that are plenty to share, the steamed black sea bass was fragrant with ginger, scallion, soy and red pepper and was cooked perfectly. 

I also tried out the top tier Peking Duck and was deliriously happy to find that the duck was well seasoned, the scallions and cucumber garnish sliced paper thin, the pancakes nearly translucent and the hoisin not clawing sweet.

Cinnabar is located at 45 Carmens Road in Massapequa. Call 516-308-4648.

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