When a laid-back dinner date is in order, Ping Pong is one of my go-to London restaurants. They’re easy to get to with 8 branches around London, you can usually get a table or there’s at least a reasonable wait, the restaurants are easy-going (ie I don’t have to put extra effort into my outfit to feel comfortable) and their shareable dim sum menu makes it a great social spot (everyone loves talking about their favourite dishes).
When they invited James and I to try the new seasonal specials under their Dim Summer campaign, I quickly saw an opportunity to enjoy a relaxed weeknight dinner and find out whether I could add a new dish to my Ping Pong list of favourites.
So last week we popped down to my favourite branch at Southbank to see what they had in store for us.
In the midst of the heat wave I couldn’t resist the their new lemon verbena tonic – gin mare, lemon verbena tea leaves which you top up with tonic, garnished with rosemary.
Whilst we cooled down from the heat and a day in the office, we selected our dishes from the menu. They recommend 8 dishes but we went for 7. We filled out our menu (for new Ping Pong-ers, you have to pencil in what you want and they take it away), and waited with rumbling stomachs.
After a few minutes our first dish arrived:
I love a good spring roll. A standard feature in Ping Pong of course.
Then the rest of the dishes followed.
Beef gyoza dumplings – wheat flour pastry, shiitake mushroom and beef with chinkiang vinegar and ginger.
Beef fillet dumplings – spinach and beef in fresh green spinach wheat pastry.
Crunchy chicken salad – avocado, red curd, carrot, white cabbage, cucumber, rocket and chicken with honey, peanut and soy dressing.
Vegetable sticky rice – I find it hard to resist ordering some kind of starchy carbs at dinner!
Honey soy chicken wings.
And the Dim Summer dish of the season, smoked duck bao.
If you’ve been to any street food events it’s likely you’ll have seen and tried these fluffy white buns, which are stuffed with juicy meat, vegetables and sauce. So it’s no surprise to see them pop up at popular places like Ping Pong.
It was certainly a good bao. Better than the likes of yum bun? Not quite, but street food is a hard thing to recreate indoors and it’s certainly a good addition to the Ping Pong menu. For those new to bao buns but regular Ping Pong visitors, if you like the char sui bun (fluffy white buns with honey barbecued pork, which I would have ordered if this wasn’t on offer) I think you’ll like this too. And if duck isn’t your thing you can choose the alternative fillings of chargrilled vegetables and chilli prawn.
As we had one dish less than recommended we thought there was definitely room for dessert and opted for ice cream.
And due to the heat I thought it was only sensible that I tried the other seasonal cocktail.
Whitley neill gin infused with organic jade sword green tea – lemoncello and rubicon lychee juice topped with prosecco and black pepper. It’s definitely the kind of refreshment I needed on a summer’s day.
Ping Pong certainly served up the laid-back evening we always enjoy at a reasonable cost (our meal including two cocktails and a beer came to about £30 pp).
So with stomachs full of good food, and feeling happily refreshed, we set out into the summer evening. The best bit about the Southbank branch is that you get the perfect excuse to cross Hungerford Bridge on the way home.
Do you have a favourite Ping Pong dim sum dish or laid-back dinner date restaurant?
You can find all of Ping Pong locations and a full menu on their website (warning -it does provide calorie information too!)
Disclaimer – We enjoyed a complimentary meal from Ping Pong, but as ever all opinions are my own.