Captain King, Ping's, Bo
I've been lurking here for a few months, and tried a number of the places recommended, so I thought I'd repay the favor by sharing some of my experiences at these places.
Last week I went to Captain King for the second time, and I liked it much better than the first time I'd gone there. The first time I'd ordered baby shrimp with snow peas, duck's blood with sour cabbage, pork shank with brown sauce, and steamed bread. The first three were good but didn't bowl me over (all though the duck's blood was more intriguing in retrospect), and the steamed bread was frankly a disappointment. This time, though, I had preserved pork with garlic greens, chunk chicken Taiwanese style, and pan-fried dumplings, all of which were excellent. My only disappointment this time was the crispy duck, which I found flavorless and not particularly crispy.
Another place I read about here, which I went to recently and really liked, was Ping's in Elmhurst. I forget the exact name of the dish I had (only one; the waiter discouraged me from ordering an appetizer, saying it would be too much); it was something like "Ping's Special Dish", and had scallops, pine nuts, XO sauce (which I wasn't able to detect), and other things. The flavor was more complex and subtle than any other Chinese food I can remember having (although this may reflect my limited range of experience with Chinese cuisine, as I gather that really sophisticated Chinese food is rare in NYC).
I must admit, though, that I wasn't so crazy about Bo. My meal there was good, but it didn't make me want to go back as soon as possible, which is how I know I really love a restaurant. After the raves here, I was disappointed. It may have been the fault of what I ordered, though; the waiter asked me if I liked spicy food, and when I said yes, recommended a kimchi-based dish (I forget the details).
I also went to Bo for the first time this weekend, but I absolutely loved it, and so did all my friends who I dragged to Queens. They couldn't stop thanking me!
The mung bean pancake were a good appetizer, but the spicy rice cake appetizer was even better. The much-lauded beef ribs were so incredible, I could hardly speak!! Coming in second were the pork & tofu dish, and the spicy calamari. The vegetarian stew with squash and tofu was interesting, but a bit overpoweringly earthy.
In general, everything was so carefully prepared, so fresh. When the bill came and it wasunder $20, I couldn't help thinking of all the mediocre meals I've had in Manhattan for twice that price.