A couple weeks ago I made an impulse visit to Ping's. I had the "live" soft shell crabs, a special on the board in the vestibule, and the golden mushroom loofah. Both were disappointing. The former, lightly covered in a spicy breading and then fried, was good but nothing special (no pun intended). The latter was steamed loofah, a vegetable that looks like a cucumber but tasted like zucchini, in a sauce containing "golden mushrooms," which have tiny heads and long thin stems. The loofah were delicious and the sauce was tasty in itself, but the combination of the flavors didn't do anything for me.
A few days ago I went back, and had a much better time. This time I was accompanied by two friends, so I could share a bunch of dishes. In an adventurous spirit, we ordered the duck's tongue, which turned out to be my favorite. This could be ordered salt-baked or sauteed. At our waiter's recommendation, we ordered the "crispy" kind. I'm not sure which of the two choices that was, but I suspect it was the salt-baked. At any rate, we got a platter piled high with duck's tongues. These were about two inches long, had bones in them (to my surprise), were very fatty and absolutely delicious. This made up for my disappointment with the pig intestines, which we also ordered, and which weren't as good as they had been last time because they weren't served piping hot.
Our other dishes were more conventional. The jellyfish with sesame flavor was excellent. The "double clams," two different types of clam in a bed of a thin, chive-like vegetable (sorry, I don't remember the details), was also very good. The "desert vegetarian" was broccoli, eggplant and loofah, covered in the same spicy breading that the crabs of my previous visit had been, and fried. We didn't care much for the broccoli, but the others were delicious (again, best eaten before it cools). Our most expensive item by far was braised fresh South African abalone with preserved sea cucumbers. I didn't care much for this, but both my friends liked it. After my previous visit, I had begun to think that maybe I'd just been lucky in my first trips to Ping's, but this visit restored by faith.