Suburban Chef Ping rivals Chinatown fare
BY THOMAS WITOM June 30, 2011 12:04PM
1755 Algonquin Rd.,
Prices: Appetizers, $2.75-$11.50; entrees, $7.50-$26; desserts, $2.75-$4.50.
Hours: Dinner Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30-10 p.m. (until 10:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday); Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Lunch Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Try: Shrimp toast, Peking duck, cashew chicken.
In a bite: Authentic Chinese fare is a big draw at Chef Ping. And the word is out, as witnessed by the sizable crowds lining up for a place at one of its tables.
Chef Ping in Rolling Meadows serves authentic Asian fare, food destined to give restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown a run for the money.
It was opened just shy of two years ago by former owners of the popular, well-regarded Yu’s Mandarin in nearby Schaumburg.
A comfortable place with seating for at least 100 in a subtly decorated main dining room, Chef Ping offers attentive service and an extensive, fairly priced menu of Chinese (and some Korean) specialties. As a result, there’s typically a queue for a table, both at lunch or dinner.
The Saturday of our visit was no exception. At 6 p.m. the parking lot was almost filled, and the wait was close to 15 minutes.
With more than a dozen appetizer possibilities, making a decision can be tricky. Fried or steamed pot stickers, crab rangoon and vegetable or shrimp egg rolls are all options along with jellyfish salad and salt-and-pepper tofu. The shareable order of shrimp toast, filled with a mix of ground shrimp, water chestnuts and onions, was enjoyable.
Chef Ping is best appreciated with a group of friends. That makes it easy to experience a greater variety of dishes, especially taking into account the large portions of the entrees.
The two we tried — a rich cashew chicken and tender Peking duck — were delicious but overwhelming for two diners. On the plus side, leftovers made for a terrific second follow-up meal at home.
The chicken, cooked in an enticing garlicky sauce, came on a platter with water chestnuts, celery and cashews plus a side of rice.
Tableside, our server deftly filled eight thin mandarin pancakes with large pieces of slow-roasted duck with scallions and plum sauce. Duck fans will find this a worthy preparation.
At other tables large bowls of Chef Ping’s noodles in black bean sauce were making the rounds. Still other popular dishes seemed to be moo shu pork, Mongolian beef, gan pong scallops and Szechuan fish casserole in a hot pot.
Complimentary tea is served, and the bar is equipped to whip up a variety of cocktails, from Mai Tais to martinis.
Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.