Monday, September 14, 2009

Ping's Seafood Serves Great Dim Sum in New York City Chinatown

The photos above were taken at Ping's Seafood Restaurant on 22 Mott Street in Chinatown.
Photos taken with my Canon SD880 IS

Dim Sum is popularly known as a Cantonese dining experience associated with Chinese tea and small food dishes served during brunch-like hours. Dim Sum originated in southern China (the Guangdong province and Hong Kong) as a Cantonese tradition and its history is rooted with traditional tea houses found along the roadsides where many tired travelers and rural farmers would stop and rest. These tea houses initially only served tea, but expanded its offerings to include small snacks, which today has popularized into dim sum. For this reason, the words "yum cha", which literally means "drink tea", are words used synonymously with dim sum. (note: dim sum literally translates to "touch the heart"). Many Chinese families have dim sum on Sundays and use it as a way to get the family together. The traditional dim sum dishes include Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau), Pork Dumpings, (Siu Mai), Steamed Roast Pork Buns, Fried Radish Cake (see photos above). Dim Sum service hours vary, but typically is served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., though if you go towards the end you may end up with very limited food items.

With the increasing number of Dim Sum restaurants popping up in Chinatown, how do you choose between them? Many people may simply choose the dim sum location by the number of people waiting in line -- but that is a sure way to end up in a bad location (ahem, Golden Unicorn and Jing Fong). After living in New York for more than nine years and having had dim sum all my life in the U.S. and in Hong Kong, I've allowed my taste buds and experience decide. Below I have reviewed Ping's Seafood Restaurant as well as provided my opinion on other dim sum restaurants in New York Chinatown.

Ping's Seafood Restaurant Dim Sum Reviewed:

Quality & Taste. Quality of their food is consistent and the taste is better than the average dim sum location; Taste has some reminiscent quality of Hong Kong dim sum; Food is not oily

Authenticity. Serves dim sum with the traditional push carts, though the number of "pushers" (my own terminology for the servers who carry dim sum dishes in their hand and attempt to "push" them onto your table) have increased

Variety. Ping's has a good variety and continually adds new items to the menu. If you want something other than the dim sum entrees, you can order from their restaurant menu - I typically add a lo mein to our meal if we have a large party and want to add variety to our meal

Service. Very quick, typical of Asian restaurants. Employees mostly speak Cantonese or Mandarin, though most servers usually know keywords (shrimp, pork, beef, rice noodle) that can aid you in selecting your food choice; the host speaks English and an English photo menu is now available; If you can't find what you want through the carts or the pushers, the host or waiters can find it for you.

Varied, mostly Asian with medium-number of tourists (though number of tourists is likely expanding as evidenced with the English photo menu)

Location. Located on Mott Street between Mosco and Pell Street (or even Bowery); Walk south of the Haagen-Dazs on Mott Street, walk around a bend and you'll find it next to The Peking Duck House. Near most other dim sum locations

Price. Slightly more expensive than the average (think prices increased). $2.00 for small dishes, $2.80 for medium dishes and $3.80 for large dishes. Small dishes include fried taro dumplings, mini egg custards, spring rolls; Medium dishes include shrimp dumplings, pork siu-mai, fried radish cake, pork fried dumplings, baked tofu rolls; Large dishes include steamed shrimp/roast pork rice rolls, sticky rice in bowl, fried chive dumplings

From left to right: Traditional Dim Sum Push Cart; "Pusher" of dim sum dishes; Ping's English menu with photos

From left to right: Ping's Entrance (construction going on next door); View of 2nd Floor Dining Room

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Ping's dim sum, which was my favorite go-to dim sum place for many years, I've moved on to another restaurant that has tickled my taste buds -- Chatham Square Restaurant (6 Chatham Square, (212) 587-8800). I will provide a review for Chatham Square Restaurant in the near future with photos, but the main reason I moved to Chatham Square Restaurant was because the taste of the food is EVEN closer to Hong Kong style and quality than Ping's!

The Competition (not as good as Ping's or Chatham Square Restaurant):

Golden Unicorn - has many floors and can accommodate many people; however, food quality is mediocre and is sometimes served luke warm (despite it coming off of the push carts!); usually large lines; clientele - mixed variety, with a decent number of tourists; reasonable prices for dim sum; has their own website (click name link) -- [18 E. Broadway, Cross street is Catherine St., (212) 941-0911]

Dim Sum Go Go - small location and too touristy (i think mid-week tour buses offload here), food ordered via menu which loses its authenticity, limited selection (doesn't have the new Hong Kong dim sum entrees), slightly higher dim sum prices than average [5 E. Broadway, Across from Confucius Plaza, (212) 732-0796]

Jing Fong - if you want to fight for your food, this enormous food like hall is made for you; has push carts; its escalator is more memorable than its food [20 Elizabeth St, 2nd Floor, Cross Street is Canal, (212) 964-5256]


Anonymous said...

Are there any good Dim Sum Locations in NY north of Houston? preferabbly somewhere between 14th and 30th?

simplyMEinNYC said...

Unfortunately, not that I'm aware of... if I find one, I will post again... but a great business idea if anyone ever wanted one -- it could be one of those quick-cafe-like pick-up a few items and go type things.

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