The bank of fish tanks near the entrance suggests the category. Go for something you haven"t tried: Spiced baby silvery fish are bite-sized pieces of boneless smelt deep-fried to a golden yellow; ask for pepper salt (a mix of Szechuan peppercorns and salt) to boost the mild flavor. Big steamed oysters benefit from a splash of Ping"s famous homemade XO sauce--a spicy condiment made of dried shrimp, scallops and garlic. The sliced sautéed conch is set off by snappy snow peas and a tangy fermented shrimp sauce. Those exotic flavors, plus touches like tablecloths, justify prices that are a notch above the Chinatown norm.
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