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PING PANG PONG

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Gold Coast

4000 West Flamingo

Las Vegas, NV 89103

702-367-7111

website

$10-$25

Daily 10am-3pm

Daily 5pm-3am

Chinese

A-

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

An authentic and affordable Chinese restaurant.

Where is it?

At Gold Coast, just off The Strip.

What kind of food is served?

Lots of provincial favorites and traditional Chinese cuisine, which might be a little intimidating if all you're used to is Panda Express.

What is the atmosphere like?

Open to the casino and very noisy.

How is the service?

Fantastic.

What are the prices like?

Very affordable, especially for a restaurant this good.

What else do I need to know?

They are open until 3am in case you get late night hunger pangs.

What's the bottom line?

One of the best Chinese restaurants in Vegas.

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FULL REVIEW

Picked by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the "Top Chinese Restaurants in the United States" is a pretty big honor for any eatery but one tucked into a back corner of an Off-Strip casino? That's downright astounding.

Long favored by locals and tourists alike, Ping Pang Pong at The Gold Coast is definitely one of the most authentic Asian food experience are you are likely to get in Las Vegas. What that means is that the menu might be a little challenging to people who are used to Americanized, take-out style Chinese food. This is no Panda Express with big styrofoam plates of orange chicken and Mongolian beef.

Instead what you get is a wide-ranging menu of provincial specialities including items like Cantonese Princess chicken, steamed with dry scallops; salt and pepper frog leg; chitlin hot pot (pork intestine and pork blood with fried tofu); night market fried rice with sliced beef and Thai chilies; and King Du pork chops with a sweet citrus sauce. Even the Kung Pao chicken is done with an authentic Szechwan fire roasted chilies.

Which isn't to say that the less-adventurous won't find something to eat. In all you'll find about 100 dishes on the menu - all manners of soups and starters, meat and poultry, seafood, tofu and vegetables, rice, noodles, clay pot and congee, dim sum, and more. A few highlights from our visit:

The Gobo beef is tender, juicy, and flavorful pieces of steak with burdock root (sort of similar in taste to an artichoke) and other veggies; the crispy Cantonese chicken is supposed to be served with spicy chilies but you can adjust the level of "hot" - we got ours on the mild side and it was perfect, with a crunchy, smoky skin and moist on-the-bone meat; and the chicken with black bean sauce was absolutely terrific, with generous portions of both meat and vegetables in a just-right dressing. We also loved the Chilean sea bass, which can come pan seared, grilled whole, or fried in chunks with a light batter. Really terrific and not at all "fishy."

Equally high on our list of favorites were the pot stickers, done dim sum dumpling style with a puffy, lightly seared pastry and a zesty beef and pork filling.

Speaking of dim sum, that's a lunch time favorite here with an extensive menu of traditional buns, dumplings, and more served with classic flair on carts.

Prices are very reasonable. Although there are a few entrees that approach $20, most are under $15 and a few are under $10. And portions are huge - one entree will serve two people or provide you with plenty of leftovers if you happen to have a fridge in your room.

I think my only real quibble with the restaurant was the atmosphere. The marble lined dining room is open to the loud, smoky casino and once you add in the general restaurant hubbub from patrons and the open kitchen you are left with one very noisy dining experience. Some people may appreciate it as "energetic" - we were mildly annoyed. If you're like us, you can always get take-out and go back to your room.

Although it is still astounding that Travel + Leisure found this place, it's easy to understand why they became enamored of it once they did.

Note that the restaurant is open until the wee hours of the morning in case you get a hankerin' for salt and pepper frog leg at two in the morning.

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