Pingtung, a new twist on a Taiwanese market and tea shop from Li Ping, owner of New York’s SoHo’s Kelly & Ping and an eight-year Angeleno, is now soft-open on Melrose. The shelves will be stocked with spices, the brand’s own Gongfu-style teas, Stumptown coffee, J-Pop sochu, Calpico sodas, and snacks, while a cafe menu is currently still amassing items, intending to double its size in the weeks to come with new dishes each week and the eventual introduction of shaved ice and dessert.
Currently, the pan-Asian panopoly includes four daily banh mi and three ramen dishes, rice bowls, veggie and salmon roll-ups, and a hearty section of dim sum, including chicken shu mai, spring rolls, crystal shrimp har gow (widely known to be the inspiration for this Doors song), and lo mai gai. The new “open-air” restaurant, which opens at 11:30 A.M. Tuesdays through Sundays, will serve as a cafe by day and embrace more of a bar focus in the evenings, complete with cocktails and a cool back patio. See the full current food, drink, and tea menus below.
In other opening news, your options for Czech cuisine have suddenly doubled in L.A. with the introduction of a restaurant called Praha, serving Czech cuisine to Redondo Beach. So far, the reviews have been mixed between raves that it serves excellent home cooking and charges that the food is moldy. Considering Czech cuisine begins and ends with great big glasses of Pilsner, we’ll start at Zina’s in Torrance and hope Praha’s food tastes alright by the time we’re tanked on Urquell.
Pingtung, 7455 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood; 213-399-8216.
Praha, 1727 S. Catalina Ave. Redondo Beach; 310-791-7482.
Roll-ups, Vegetables and Salads
Salmon Roll-ups 9.95
Sauteed Pea Shoots with Garlic 7.25
Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic 6.95
Baby Bok Choy with Garlic 6.95
Seaweed and Bean Curd in Vinegar Dressing 4.95
Vegan Green Bean Salad with Soy Chicken and Chipotle Dressing 6.75
Banh Mi Sandwiches with Today’s Side
Galbi BBQ Beef 7.95
Noodles and Soups
Tonkotsu Ramen 7.25
Chicken Ramen 7.25
Miso Soup 2.75
Over Rice Bowls with Miso Soup
Paiku Pork Chop 10.95
Galbi BBQ Beef 10.95
Shredded Beef with Green Peppers 9.50
Spicy Bean Curd Home Style 7.95
Side of Rice 2.00
House Hot Sake 7.00
Sho Chiku Bai Organic 13.50
Sho Chiku Bai Creme Nigori 12.95
Sho Chiku Bai Ginjyo 11.95
Kikiushi Nigori Perfect Snow 13.95
Nagaragawa Sparkling Nigori 17.50
Tengumai Yamahai Jikomi 52.00
Hojun Zuiyo Junmai Shu 38.00
Shirakabequra Toku Junmai 12.00/65.00
J-Pop Fruit 5.00
J-Pop Peach 5.00
Kirin Ichiban 6.00/18.00
Stella Artois 7.00/20.00
Negra Modelo 7.00/20.00
Asahi Super Dry 5.95
Sapporo Tall 7.95
Koshihikari Echigo 7.95
Echigo Stout 7.95
Echigo Red Ale 7.95
Prosecco (Sparkling) 8.00/32.00
Pecorino (White) 8.00/32.00
Nero d’Avola (Red) 8.00/32.00
Loose Leaf Tea
Tung Ting (Oolong) 5.95
Big Red Robe (Oolong) 11.95
HIgh Mountain Fog (Green) 5.95
Jasmine Pearl (Green) 5.95
Gongfu Black (Black) 5.95
Organic Golden Monkey (Black) 5.95
Chysantheumum Bud (Herb) 5.95
Mint (Herb) 5.95
Hair Bender 3.00
House Decaf 3.00
Cold Brew 4.00
Sparkling Water 2.50
Diet Coke 2.50
ITO EN Oi Ocha 2.00
UCC Oolong Tea 1.95
UCC Green Tea 1.95
UCC Original Coffee w/Milk 1.95
UCC Kona Coffee w/Milk 1.95
Calpico Original 1.95
Calpico Lychee 2.25
Tung Ting (Oolong from Taiwan) $5.95/pot $50/lb
Tung Ting is grown and harvested (fall) on Dong Ting Mountain in Taiwan. It is considered Taiwan’s most famous and finest oolong tea, so we serve it as our HOUSE TEA. Dong Ting Oolong tea plants are believed to be a specimen originating from the Wuyi mountains and replanted in Taiwan. This is the perfect tea to turn somebody on to who doesn’t know much about tea and asks us to recommend one. Put just enough tea in the top (basket) of the pot so you can’t see the plastic beneath it and you’re good. It will expand after a couple steeps to fill the basket. Wash (rinse) for about a minute and then serve. First steep after wash should be about 2 minutes.
Supreme Alishan (Oolong from Taiwan) $8.95/pot $68/lb
A style of oolong tea similar to Tung Ting that is grown high in the famed Alishan Mountain Range of Central Taiwan. Exquisite in every way. If they like Tung Ting, they will love this. Prepare the same way as Tung Ting, but let steep a little bit longer after wash, maybe an extra minute. The first steep comes out a bit weaker, but gets stronger with each one.
Osmanthus Milk (Oolong from Taiwan) $5.95/pot $55/lb
This oolong tea comes from select tea trees that produce leaves boasting a unique sweet, milky flavor. The tea is infused with the unforgettable sweet fragrance of osmanthus flowers for a wonderfully cream tea. No actual milk is used. Ping’s favorite! Try a pot for yourself and you’ll get the idea. Literally tastes like you put milk it in. Amazing. Prepare the same as Tung Ting.
High Mountain Decaf (Oolong from Taiwan) $5.95 $54/lb
This decaffeinated oolong is grown at an elevation of 1000 meters on the mountains of central Taiwan. When brewed, it produces an awesome smoky and woodsy fragrance that is not as flowery as Tung Ting and the other Taiwanese oolongs we sell. Prepare the same way as Tung Ting.
Big Red Robe (Oolong from China) $11.95/pot $130/lb
Big Red Robe is perhaps the most prized tea in the world. The name originates from a story during the Ming Dynasty that the mother of an Emperor was cured of an illness by a tea. As a result, the Emperor sent men to Mount Wuyi to cover the bushes with big red robes. Those shrubs are still present today and only available in limited quantities. It literally grows out of a rock on the side of a mountain in Southern China, which is what gives it a distinct earthy and rocky (mineral rich) taste. There is simply no other tea like it in terms of taste and how it makes you feel when drinking. Denzel Washington peddled “Blue Magic” in American Gangster. We push “Red Magic” at PINGTUNG. Our very own Dead Show for only $11.95 a pot - just add water. Fill tea basket about a third and wash. First steep about 3 minutes.
High Mountain Fog (Green from China) $5.95/pot $37/lb
This is a very simple everyday green tea from China. Super clean, it has a wonderful depth due to its natural growth in the mists and fog of the region. The climate where its grown induces the production of more chlorophyll, therefore adding a brighter resilience to the leaf as well as enhancing the unique flavors of the tea. Most people who order green tea are probably used to Japanese greens, generally called Sencha, which have a grassy taste. This does not. It looks like Sencha, but tastes different. It’s better and a great tea for the price. Put a small amount in the basket and wash quickly. First steep should be fast, no more than 30 seconds. Green tea, unlike oolong, turns bitter quick if over-steeped. Error on the side of under-steeping. Customer can always just pour back into the basket if too weak and steep to their taste.
Organic Genmaicha (Green from Japan) $7.95/pot $65/lb
Genmaicha is Sencha tea with roasted brown rice mixed in. You’ve likely had it in Sushi joints. The rice gives it a roasted, nutty bite to go along with the grassy taste of Sencha. Ours is very high quality and organically grown. Prepare the same as High Mountain Fog: quick wash and steep for under a minute.
Jasmine Pearl (Green from China) $5.95/pot $34/lb
A high quality green tea made from tender silver tea buds infused with the scent of Jasmine. The blending process usually takes three rounds, each starting with a fresh batch of flowers for optimal aroma. Afterwards, the leaves are tightly rolled into a pearl shape, which will unfurl while brewing. This is not the cheap Jasmine you get in Chinese restaurants. Let customers take a whiff from the jar and they will order it every time. Sell them a prepared package (silver bags) from the shelf while you’re at it. Prepare the same as High Mountain Fog and Organic Genmaicha.
Jasmine Green (Green from China) $5.95/lb $22/lb
A more affordable Jasmine green. Not as fancy as Jasmine Pearl, but still good. This is not on the menu, but we have it on the top shelf for now if someone asks. Prepare the same as our other green teas.
Gongfu Black (Black from China) $5.95 $28/lb
A super smooth black tea from China that is perfect for preparing in our Gongfu pots due to its fine, unbroken twisted leaves. Good with or without milk. Wash quickly then steep for about 1 minute. Customers will likely steep black tea to their taste, whereas green and oolong we should let them know how long to steep to avoid bitterness.
Organic Golden Monkey (Black from China) $5.95 $28/lb
Grown in the organic tea garden of Fujian Province, China. The name comes from its unique appearance, in that the leaves look like monkey claws and have tiny, golden hair. The tea is hand-processed each spring with a careful plucking of one or two leaves. Good with or without milk. Prepare the same way as Gonfgu Black.
Premium Pu-er Tea (Black from China) $5.95 $37/lb
Pu-Er tea is unique in that it gets better with age, much like wine. It initially starts out as a green tea but is not fully fired. Instead, the moist leaves are loosely stacked on top of each other to allow to dry and age. The result is a color change from green to a deep burgundy. Premium Pu-Er has a smoother and sweeter taste than lower grade Pu-Er teas. We list our Pu-er has a black tea for convenience sake, but its really its own category of tea that basically means very old tea. Whenever you see one of those big round tea bricks in a shop it’s Pu-er. It tends to have an old, earthy, smoky almost woody taste. Tastes old, in a cool way. Some people love it. Others might not. Ours is excellent. Prepare the same as the other black teas. Wash quickly and steep for about a minute or less. It’s a lot stronger than Gongfu Black and Golden Monkey.
Taiwan Chamomile (Herb) $5.95 $33/lb
Chamomile is the super chill herb. Calms the nerves. Helps you sleep. Ours is from Taiwan. Don’t wash the herb tea. Take pot to the table, and pour the first steep there, so customers can smell how powerful our herb teas are. Tell customer to let steep for 2 minutes, then push the button. Caffeine free.
Chrysanthemum Bud (Herb) $5.95/pot $25/lb
Awesome herbal tea that is very popular around the world. Ours comes from hand-picked unopened chrysanthemum buds located in the Anji province of China. Great for the skin and improving vision. Don’t wash. First steep at table the same way as Chamomile. Shingo’s favorite. Caffeine free.
Mulberry Leaf (Herb) $5.95/pot $25/lb
Super blood sugar regulator and blood cleanser. Also naturally manages cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Woody, nutty taste with a touch of cinnamon. Ours is handpicked and pan dried shortly after. Don’t wash. First steep at table the same way as Chamomile. Caffeine free.
Mint (Herb) $5.95/pot $20/lb
Fresh light taste that settles the stomach and puts a smile on your face. Ours is made from naturally dried mint leaves from Zhejiang province in China. Don’t wash. First steep at table the same way as Chamomile. Caffeine free.