The never-ending flavors of Ping Pang Pong
Not many restaurants in Las Vegas can say they have lines out the door 17 years after opening. Heck, not many restaurants in this town last that long. Then there’s Ping Pang Pong, an iconic Chinese restaurant, which opened an expanded location a mere three months ago and hasn’t missed a step as it continues to be a favorite with tourists and locals.
Once named one of the top 10 Chinese restaurants in America by Travel + Leisure magazine, Ping Pang Pong is most famous for its weekend dim sum, but the eatery serves some serious Cantonese food during the evening as well.
Start with an appetizer like soft-shell crab rice paper wrap or grilled lamb chop. The former features four rolls in rice paper, with the crab and crisp lettuce filling out the middle. The dipping sauce, a wasabi/sour cream amalgam, smooths the flavors out. The latter has three chops, which are marinated raw in a juice medley including celery and carrot before it hits the grill. It arrives sizzling and crispy.
Fruit plays a big part in the beverage menu. The fresh juice bar offers a refreshing apple carrot celery juice, but nothing beats the fresh fruit organic green tea, which arrives at the table in its own tea press. The mix of fruit, mostly apple and orange, permeates the tea with each press and pour, creating something so soothing it’s nearly impossible to just drink one cup. (And hey, this is Vegas—drink as much as you want!)
Seafood is another specialty area with both classic dishes and live and fresh options. It doesn’t get any more classic than walnut prawns, a favorite among both American and Asian eaters. The sweet shellfish option features plump, fried prawns bathed in sesame mayonnaise and accompanied by honey walnuts. Lobster is prepared a number of ways, including a ginger steamed option. There is no preparation more stunning than the York of Gold live Maine lobster. The gold comes from the egg wash that the lobster is covered in. The sea creature is fried, giving it a bright, fiery, red-yellow color. It is served with the body acting as a cradle for the meat, with the head standing up. Every other patron in the restaurant will take notice as it arrives tableside.
Nosh: Ping Pang Pong
Those looking for meat will want to check out the gobo beef. Sirloin cubes are wok-tossed with gobo (burdock root) and Asian basil for a savory punch in the mouth. Try it on top of night market fried rice, which gives a nod to Thailand by using Thai chilies, bean sprouts, diced tomatoes and sliced beef. The entire thing is fried quickly, a la the street night markets in Thailand, and the tomato permeates every bite. For veggies, try the spicy XO green beans or the wrinkled string beans. Prepared simply with garlic, basil and Chinese herb, they retain both a great taste and snap.
Finish things off with fresh mango pudding. Mango slices sit inside the firm pudding and diners have the choice of getting the pudding topped with a milky cream. Or try a red bean sesame ball, fried just right, giving a crunchy exterior but keeping the red bean paste inside sweet and gooey.
There’s a reason—actually many reasons—why Ping Pang Pong is going as strong as ever all these years later.
Gold Coast, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-3 a.m. daily. 702.367.7111