Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ping's Seafood - Dim Sum

Ever since Marty introduced dim sum to me in college, I have been seeking it out wherever we have lived or visited. Dim sum originates in the Canton provinces, where people gather at tea houses during the morning and early afternoon to socialize or conduct business over these small, appetizer-sized dishes. Here in the US, dim sum is typically served via push carts, loaded with a range of treats, making their way through the dining room giving each table an opportunity to browse and make selections.

It’s a pretty heavy meal, so come hungry. I’ve happily feasted on meals that have run the gamut, ultra-greasy to almost light, either ordering from a menu or sampling from a cart. Based on this survey, my most memorable experiences have been at Ton Kiang in San Francisco and Golden Palace in Houston. Since our move to New York, we have been satisfying our porky, fried brunch cravings at Ping’s Seafood (25 Mott Street) in Chinatown.

Ping’s is a two-story restaurant complete with tanks of tilapia, lobsters, and shrimp. For weekend dim sum, the restaurant is crowded with Asian families, especially on Sunday. It’s your basic Chinese restaurant set up, clean, functional, but low on atmosphere.

Ping’s dim sum, is very good, some items even exceptional. On recent visits, the standouts were the radish cake spiked with chunks of delicious pork, fried taro cake that was relatively light with a crispy outside and rich pork sauce filling, and pillowy soft steamed barbecue pork buns bursting with sweetly barbequed pork. Their hom sui gok, a sweet, hollow deep-fried pastry stuffed with ground pork sauce, is the best I’ve ever had. It manages to fight off the greasy taste many that plagues the treat elsewhere. As I look at this list, I am clearly seeing a trend—pork, tasty, tasty pork. The cornerstone of any well executed dim sum.

Left: Steamed Shrimp Shu Mai. Center: Fried Taro Cake, Sesame Balls. Right: Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce.

On the non-pork front, I enjoy the shrimp in rice noodle. Actually, I just like the sweet noodle. Marty eats the shrimp that I pick out. One of my favorites, and only green item that usually hits our table, is the Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce. It provides the intermittent break I need from the pork and fried items. For dessert, I love the sesame balls. Fried little hollow balls covered in sesame seeds with a sticky dough comprising the exterior and a dose of sweet red bean paste in the center.

Left: Shirmp in Rice Noodle, Radish Cake. Right: Steamed Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns.

If you sit upstairs, you will get a fairly steady stream of carts filled with all your favorites. It occasionally seems like feast or famine, but patience will be rewarded with the variety you crave. Downstairs, the carts aren’t very active. Nearly everything is brought on trays. Some items never seem to make it down there, unless you specifically request. My advice, try to sit upstairs, if you have a choice. (Although if you do sit downstairs, take note of the mounted deer's head displayed in the back of the room, very odd.) The majority of the staff speaks little English. The best plan is to let the food speak for itself and be adventurous. After all, it’s not a very big financial investment (our last, gut-pleasing meal for two ran $25 before tip).


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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.