★★★★★| Ping Pong
Ping Pong is a restaurant in London where the concept is Dim Sum – food that comes in small bite-sized portions which allow you to eat lots and lots of different types. This is what me and a friend did on a recent Saturday night. We assumed the dishes would be quite small because the prices were quite low – but once the food arrived at our table, we needed a second table to capture the overflow!
Ordering at Ping Pong is quite simple. You are given a piece of paper with all the dishes and the ones you want just tick the box and give to the waitress and then the food comes out when it’s ready, or as in our case, it pretty much came out all at once. And we ordered 11 dishes. OK, in my own defence the last time I was at Ping Pong I went with 8 other people (this was years ago) and I left the restaurant hungry as everyone had grabbed a piece of this and a piece of that so I didn’t get to eat much food. But this time it was the opposite – we left stuffed!
Ping Pong’s menu is broken down into several categories. From the Nibbles and Sauces menu we had the Edamame with honey garlic sauce – and for a nice size portion at only £3.75 it was excellent. From the Rice dishes, we ordered the Honeyed Chilli Chicken and Mushroom Rice Pot. At only £6.25, it was a nice-sized bowl and included edamame peas with very tender chicken accompanied by the nice soy sauce. I would order this dish again. Then from the Soup and Salad section, we ordered, for only £5.95, the Purple Power Chicken Salad. It’s gluten free, but thankfully not flavour free – it was very very good. The purple part of the salad comes from the inclusion of rice berries – basically purple rice. At only £5.95, it’s a lot of healthiness in the large bowl which included edamame peas and rocket salad, smoked almonds and cashew nuts, and black eyed beans, plus of course the chicken, and mixed with ginger and soy dressing.
There was more food to come! From the friend and Griddled section, the Potato and Edamame Cake (only £3.25 for 2) did just what it said on the tin, as did the Crispy Duck Spring Rolls (4 for £5.35) – crunchy and stuffed with duck, cucumber with a nice and not hot hoi sin sauce.
When you go to Ping Pong you must must order items from the Steamed menu. Buns and Dumplings come in all sorts of flavors and types, and we perhaps with our eyes and not our stomachs ordered 5 of them, and they were all very very delicious and all priced between £3.55 to £4.65 and come in threes, but the highlights for me were the beef dumplings (succulent and delicious) and the Char Sui Buns, stuffed with honey barbecued pork – yummy! My dining companion enjoyed his seafood dumplings (stuffed with snow crab, prawn and scallops with carrot pastry) while we both thoroughly enjoyed the Har Gau (prawn and bamboo shot with a very crunchy coating – one of the highlights of the meal). We also ordered the Long Stem Broccoli – superbly cooked and a generous portion at only £3.95.
Believe it or not, we wanted to taste something from the Signature and Special dishes – so I ordered us the Crispy Aubergine Bao. You’ve been living under a rock if you don’t know what bao is, but this dish came with three very large bao buns and the point is to stuff the contents into the bao. Well, the contents were superb: cooked aubergines with slices and dices of carrot, cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes and massively generous 6 large aubergine slices – and yes we ate the whole thing, almost. It was superb at only £11.50.
On a lighter note, dessert was fine. My friend had the Iced Blackcurrant Parfait – it was iced – very hard to eat! But the light cream cheese with the blackcurrant coulis and meringue disc was good, while my tiny Mochi – a Japanese rice cake with mango sorbet inside – was hard to eat because the outer casing was hard, but I got there in the end.
To wash it all down Ping Pong, as expected, serves almost any sort of drink you want. From Margaritas to sweet juicy drinks to long and short cocktails and the Asian Pimms and Lemonade for two (£16.95) which was what we had, lots of refreshing looking drinks to go with your excellent dinner. Red, White, Rosé wines along with oriental beer (and mocktails) and iced teas and lemonades round out the menu.
All the food we ate (and we ate a LOT of food) came to only, and I say only £74. As we had so many different varieties and types of food, with so many dishes that overflowed onto another table, that was one heck of a deal. We ate beef, chicken, seafood, and lots and lots of other varieties, it was an excellent and superb value for the money. And there were lots of other dishes we didn’t get to try, but on our next visit, I will remind myself to just order what can fit on one table.
Ping Pong has branches in Southbank, Soho, Westfield Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush, Wembley, St. Katherine’s Docks and Covent Garden
To book a table and for phone numbers and address to their various locations, please go to:
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.