Ping Pong is a contemporary Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in London. There are 8 of them dotted across the capital: Soho, Westbourne Grove, Wembley, Southbank, Westfield Stratford, St. Katharine Docks, St Christopher’s Place and St Paul’s.
I’m not normally a fan of chains but I do like Ping Pong. More often than not, when I eat out I have very rich meals, usually basted in butter, but when I’m trying to stay healthy but still want to go out for dinner, I can go to Ping Pong and have a really tasty meal which is also relatively healthy. As long as I stick to the steamed dumplings and edamame of course. They also add seasonal dishes to their menu now and then, so when I do go back, I can discover new dishes. On top of all that, its not expensive.
Ping Pong currently have a new summer menu…‘Dim Summer’. So last week, after a particularly stressful day at work, my good friend Naomi and I went to the Soho branch on Great Marlborough Street to check it out. Luckily for us, its also a two minute walk from our office on Carnaby Street.
As soon as we sat down, we ordered a bottle of wine and started reading through the menu. If you’re not familiar with Ping Pong, you are given a pencil and a sheet with all the dishes listed with a box next to them. You simply tick what you would like and hand it to your server.
Bao take centre stage on the new summer menu. They have three specials…
Griddled smoked duck Bao served with lollo rosso lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrot and mooli, hoi sin sauce with roasted sesame seeds.
Chilli Prawn Bao with a chilli coating served with avocado, pickled carrot and mooli, lollo rosso lettuce, tuna flakes and plum mustard sauce.
Chargrilled Vegetables Bao with aubergine, courgette and shiitake mushrooms, with lollo rosso lettuce, pickled carrot and mooli, seaweed flakes and chinkiang chilli bean sauce.
We wanted to try all three varieties but at £13.50 for the prawn and duck baos, and £10.50 for the vegetable ones, it would add up quickly. Also, you get three of each kind and we didn’t want 9 baos! I asked the waiter if we could have one of each rather than picking just one type, but he explained that instead of the baos coming already filled, you build your own instead. I asked him which ones he would go for and he immediately said the prawn ones…
The buns arrived in a steamer and the ingredients on a separate dish, ready for you to assemble them however you like them.
I’m so glad we opted for the prawn baos, the fried king prawns were large and juicy and the crispy chilli coating added that necessary crunch that worked in contrast with the soft steamed bun. The chilli wasn’t too hot at all, more a pleasant warmth. Naomi and I wolfed down one each and then suddenly our table filled with all our other dishes.
Personally I would have preferred that the dishes were a little more staggered. Tables for two aren’t quite big enough when you have your plates, your glasses, bottles of wine and water, three bamboo steamers and several other dishes all crammed onto them. We felt like we were having to eat fast in order to try everything while it was still hot. I would have liked to have taken my time to enjoy two or three dishes at a time. But that’s just a small niggle. First world problems, huh?
We ordered three different steamed dumplings…Har gao – king prawn and bamboo shoot dumplings (left), edamame and truffle dumpling (centre) and scallop, king prawn and shiitake steamed dumplings (right).
I really enjoyed all of them. The dumpling skins were thin enough without being too fragile and falling apart, as can sometimes happen in some dim sum restaurants. The winners for me were the scallop, king prawn and shiitake dumplings. The soft flavour of the scallops really came through then you get the shiitake at the end. I would definitely order these again. I really enjoyed the edamame and truffle however, I didn’t get much of the truffle. But I love edamame so these were delicious.
We ordered a couple of fried options too…Beef gyoza dumplings – wheat flour pastry, shiitake mushroom and beef with chinkiang vinegar and ginger. And Potato and Edamame cakes – fluffy potato, soya beans and a crisp coating with chilli bean sauce.
I loved the potato and edamame cakes. They were soft and fluffy inside and beautifully crispy on the outside and just the right amount of edamame inside. I don’t really eat beef anymore so I only had a small bite of the beef gyoza. I actually prefer fried dumplings…I am Glaswegian afterall! So I enjoyed the crispy texture of the dunpling skin however, I’m not the best person to make a judgement on the filling. To me it tasted of a beef meatball. I didn’t pick up the shiitake mushrooms. Saying that, Naomi really enjoyed them so she finished them off.
We both loved the Chicken and mushroom rice pot – slow-cooked chicken and vegetables with garlic, ginger and soy with chinese mushrooms and black fungus served with jasmine rice.
This pot was packed full of flavour, the chicken was so tender and with such generous chunks of mushrooms, I was in heaven!
One of my favourite dishes of the evening, the honey-soy chicken wings were simply divine.
Sticky, sweet, salty coating with tender, moist meat. I could have eaten these all by myself.
After all that food, we needed a little break so we asked our waiter if we could have 15 minutes until our pudding came. I’m glad we did as the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream was wonderful.
The fondant itself was perfect. It was soft, rich and velvety, not too sweet, gooey in the middle and just the perfect way to round off a great meal. Its worth mentioning the vanilla ice cream too, it was the best vanilla ice cream I’ve tasted. Very similar to Green & Blacks. If they use G&B, then well played. If not, I’d love to know how they make it.
We had a great meal at Ping Pong. The restaurant itself was buzzing, our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and we loved our food. I will definitely be back soon for more of those crispy prawn baos and the chicken wings. Oh, and the chocolate fondant! Fortunately for me, I work two minutes away so I can pop in for lunch soon.
If you fancy trying out the Dim Summer menu, it will be available across all Ping Pong’s restaurants in London until the 31st August. For more information and to find out where your nearest restaurant is, click here.
Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of the restaurant, but all opinions are my own.