Had a good-minus meal at Ping's recently (note Chinese cuisine is not among my preferred cuisines). My dining companion and I shared the following.
BYO wines were (1) R de Ruinart (evolved for a N.V. champagne and from one of my preferred producers; obviously not comparable to something like Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs), and (2) Mersault, G Rulot, 2000.
-- Roasted Quail ($3-5 each). Began with a quail for each diner. This was an unusual point in the meal for quail to be served, according to non-Asian meal progression patterns. However, when I asked the maitre d' about this, I was told that this was an appetizer. Not bad, although the breast meat was slightly tough.
-- Oysters, with XO sauce (mild version). This was slightly overcooked, but the oyster was huge and only $3 each. On top of the oysters were cut strands of softened vermicelli.
-- Deep-fried Ducks' Tongues with Garlic Flavor. This was good, with fattiness of the ducks' tongues. The thought of how many duck had offered up their tongues was not as appealing, as there were at least 25 tongues in the dish (around $13). Gelatinous textures coupled with fattiness of the tongues.
-- Conch with Green Beans. This was a well-executed dish, with the green beans in their pods sweet and crispy. However, the conch was intriniscally a bit too aged (not in terms of freshness, but in its actual age while alive) and its flesh was on the tough side. Served with a bit of shrimp paste on the side. Not a bad deal at around $18.
-- Goose feet with sea cucumber, lettuce, mushroom (around $6 per portion). This was quite good, if one likes goose feet. The lettuce was enveloped in the saucing, and was nice too. Again, I questioned the placement of this dish at this point in the meal. Overall, I'm not quite sure I understood why certain dishes were before or after others.
-- Soft Tofu with Crabmeat (around $20). We asked that pea shoots be utilized in instead of the regular veggie for this dish (entailing a supplement). Quite soft tofu, with bits of crabmeat on top. Quite nice, but underseasoned for even my preferences. Dish required a bit more seasoning for the tofu component. The pea shoots were nice and slightly oily (appropriately), serving as a bit of a contrast for the soft tofu.
-- Congee with frogs' legs (off menu). The congee was slightly less refined than I would like.
-- Crab Known for its Roe, cooked in Chinese wine with parsley and limited amounts of ginger (about $22/pound for a 2-pounder; price varies according to market). This was the best dish of the evening. Ping's serves several kinds of crab, but one available now is particularly well known for its roe. Nice complexity from the Chinese wine ("sui" wine) utilized in the saucing, with bold parsley tastes. Orange roe, cooked into an almost solid form, lined the crab's shell generously when it was opened.