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.
22 Mott StNew York, NY 10013
Hours: Mon–Fri 10:30am–midnight; Sat, Sun 9am–11pm