83-02 Queens Boulevard
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 396-1238

The year of the rabbit has emerged. My family's Judeo-Christian tradition dictates that on Chinese New Year we eat whatever animal the year has transferred over to. When it was the year of the dragon, we broke into the Bronx Zoo to liberate komodos... into our crock pot. 2010 proved to be far easier thanks to Ping's on Queens Boulevard, who've provided some new years specials to feed our world-weary souls.

There are three Ping's locations: Chinatown, Flushing, and Elmhurst. Dudeman and Shrink found me at a corner table of the Elmhurst one, drinking boiling hot jasmine tea and snapping interior photos. I was lucky enough to land us one of the more small tables on the edge. Most of Ping's has tables seating 10. And most of those were filled when I got there. It was a madhouse. There was no music but it was loud. People screaming across tables, screaming orders at waiters... lots of yelling. The lights were bright and the flat-screen TVs alternated between Chinese cooking programs and Chinese cartoons.

Like just about every Chinese restaurant of comparable size and reputation, Ping's has tanks of live fish, which, alongside their duck, will be served whole. The 'Rents and I weren't hankering to decapitate anything this particular evening though, and so we stuck to scanning the menu, like we would anywhere else. Passing over the $75 shark fin soup and whole plates of sauteed duck tongues, we ordered a range of dumplings to split.

First to arrive were the Mixed Seafood Dumplings, which the 'Rents enjoyed far more than I did. Indeed, they liked them a lot. I found them too fishy. Perhaps, in retrospect, this should have been obvious. They were followed by the Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, which I thought were fine, but the 'Rents didn't like at all. Too bland, they said. Again, perhaps, we should have seen this coming. In my opinion, they tasted like what you'd get if you turned minestrone soup into a dumping. Next to arrive, the Pan Fried Pork and Shrimp Dumplings alongside the Pan Fried Chives and Shrimp Dumplings. Both were delicious, though my parents enjoyed the pork-shrimp ones more. I was more partial to the chives-shrimp.

Hot on the dumpling tails came our final starter, the Barbecued Honey Quail. We ordered three of them, since there's really no way to split a bird the size of a golf ball between three people. And at $3 each, we weren't breaking the bank here. Imagine eating a very small duck and that's the gist of eating quail. And don't feel bad using your fingers. You'll need them to eat this and they supply wet-naps for a reason.

The food started coming fast and hot after the quail arrived. We were barely able to finish when the main course Dudeman picked, the Sliced Abalone Braised with E-Fu Noodle arrived with its three sharing bowls found its way to our table (all of the dishes are intended to be shared). Abalone is a cough-cough shaped fist-sized sea snail with an extremely light flavor and the texture of a wet sauteed mushroom. This particular noodle dish was very tasty, but somewhat light on abalone. I'd definitely get it again, but I'd really like there to be more meat in it, so to speak. A solid 85% of the dish was noodle and we ended up leaving a vast majority of the dish untouched once we ran out of abalone and sauce. My pick was the Sauteed Fresh Frog in Two Kinds of Flavor. For the record, I don't know what those two flavors were, since they don't say, but if my dining out history has taught me anything, it's that one of the flavors was garlic sauce and the other was funnel cake. Seriously, I was thinking about powdered sugar the entire time. Frog, as I've said many a time to many a person, tastes like a cross between chicken and fish. It's not really an acquired taste since you can almost think you've already eaten it. Frog's main problem is that it's extremely bony.

This being the year of the rabbit, Pings had two rabbit specials on the menu, one of which Shrink ordered, the Sauteed Fresh Shredded Rabbit Meat and Asian Mushrooms in Ping's Special Sauce. I always get a laugh at the mystery sauces that Chinese restaurants add to their food and Ping's was no different. Whatever Ping's mystery special sauce was, it was basically the same sauce that you get when you order beef with scallions. But that's because this rabbit dish was the beef with scallions dish, just with mushrooms as well, and served in a cute edible basket. It was also the best dish of the night. Simply fantastic. It was the kind of food you could find yourself addicted to.

We weren't offered a dessert menu, but neither did we ask for one. The check came with fortune cookies and orange slices.

Four orders of dumplings, three quail, and three entrees, plus tax and tip came to $127.

If you're thinking it's a somewhat inconvenient location, Ping's right by the Grand Avenue R/M Train and the restaurant also has a parking lot.

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