Friday, June 13, 2014

One bite: Ping's Noodle Platter, a dish you won't find in the city

Posted By on 06.13.14 at 01:14 PM

Noodle platter, Chef Ping

About five and a half years ago I took a survey of the city's Chinese-Korean restaurants—spots that specialize in a very particular style of Chinese food adapted to Korean tastes. What was, and continues to be, remarkable about places like Chang's, Great Sea, VIP Restaurant, New Peking, and Great Beijing, is that they all traffic in long, fresh house-made wheat noodles used in various iterations of ja jiang mian, in which they're tossed in an inky, earthy black bean sauce, or jampong, deep, spicy bowls of seafood soup.

Leeks and seafood, Chef Ping

Back then Rolling Meadows' Chef Ping wasn't on the scene, but just about a year and a half later, the former owners of Schaumburg's sprawling Yu's Mandarin opened their doors in a more manageable room that has all the charm of a suburban Denny's, but nonetheless manages to fill up 15 minutes into lunchtime every day. About 30 percent of the guests are non-Asian lunch-breakers looking for the typical, familiar Americhinese standards that make up the greater portion of the very large menu. But Chef Ping has a devoted following of Koreans, who mainly stick to the "old time flavor from home" section of the menu, written in English, Pinyin, and Hangul, and featuring things like lang jang pi, a cold salad of seafood, vegetables, and pork dressed with a hot mustard sauce, or sea cucumber with fatty pork. Really, they're mostly here for the noodles, and bowls of ja jiang mian appear on just about every table.

Ping has one noodle dish you don't see anywhere in the city. Titled simply Ping's Noodle Platter, it's a dry version of jampong with an unusually complex, almost smoky sauce (relative to most versions of the soup) tossed with shredded pork, scallops, shrimp, and squid, as well as onions, bean sprouts, and dried red chiles. The seafood is cooked uniformly—no rubbery bits anywhere—but the truly special aspects are the noodles themselves, long and tensile, and with an almost imperceptible irregularity that optimizes sauce adhesion. It's a huge portion for $9.25, but if you've a sidekick along it makes a great one-two punch with one other dish, perhaps the tender yellow leeks with seafood, a relative splurge at $16.95.

Chef Ping

Chef Ping, 1755 Algonquin Road, Rolling Meadows, 847-981-8888,

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