Festival Terrace Southbank Centre, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX www.pingpongdimsum.com
Ping Pong is a group of Dim Sum restaurants, which combine the UK’s growing love of Asian food with great cocktails and interesting teas.
We visited the Southbank site, which is quite a large space spread across two floors. High glass windows and sleek and stylish Asian design create the dining space downstairs, and upstairs you’ll find the Lotus Bar which serves cocktails and has an outside terrace for when the warmer weather finally arrives.
I arrived at Ping Pong really looking forward to the meal. As someone who has a big background in Asian food, Dim Sum has been a personal favourite of mine for many years and, Ping Pong has been on my’To Try’ list since first hearing of the group. On top of all that, I enjoy sharing food as it enables me to try a variety of different flavours, rather than being confined to one or two.
After being greeted by a very friendly waitress, we were advised 7-10 dishes between two people would be a good mix Ã¢â‚¬â€œ depending on how hungry we were feeling, of course.
The roast venison puffs were nice and essentially consisted of venison wrapped in a light pastry. However, the one I tried had a slightly grisly, chewy piece of venison in it which wasn’t particularly appetising. The broccoli was delicious, though. Served al dente with, and I’m not entirely sure how they made this, a white sesame sauce which was rich and deep. It was so good I wanted to use it on everything we ate afterwards.
Next arrived a stack of steamers, filled with dumplings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ always a welcome sight
The first layer consisted of pork and prawn shu mai dumplings. These were fine, if a tad bland. However, when dipped in enough chilli sauce they perfectly agreeable.
The second layer contained a bright and vibrant dumpling filled with lobster and prawn. The lobster inside was sweet and soft, and when paired with the buttered shallots, shiitake mushroom and ginger and wrapped in the beetroot pastry giving it an eye-catching colour, it was a very enjoyable mouthful.
The final layer held an incredibly indulgent dumpling that is probably not one for those watching the waistline Ã¢â‚¬â€œ chicken and foie gras. Wrapped inside a bright green pastry, made with spinach, was another delicious filling that was smooth and rich. Personally, if it wasn’t for all the other dishes filling the table, I would have just eaten theseover and over again.
Our final dish of the day was soft shell crab bao. Wonderfully presented it included two fluffy white steamed buns with pickled carrot and cabbage, a sweet chilli mayo and, of course, the fried soft shell crabs.
The bao really were light and fluffy and the pickled vegetables cut through the richness of the whole meal, not just the dish. However, although the soft shell crabs had a nice flavour, they were a bit chewy and not as crisp as I was expecting.
Ever since I was introduced to lychee martinis a few years back, they have been a personal favourite of mine so, I was more than happy to wash down the meal with Ping Pong’s take on it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Lychee and Rose martini. It was refreshing and very easy to drink.
We also enjoyed the flowering teas. If you haven’t tried one before, you get a glass with what looks like a dried flower inside. However, when boiling water is poured over it, it’blooms’ in the glass, revealing a stunning flower and infusing the water with its flavour. Although it did just taste like a normal jasmine tea, there was a lot of theatre behind it which I enjoyed.
Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Ping Pong. Some of the dishes possibly weren’t the most authentic Dim Sum I’ve ever tried, however I feel like it is a great restaurant as an introduction to the cuisine, or as a place to meet friends and catch up over some good food and great cocktails. What’s more, their special dishes for Chinese New Year (28th January) look delicious, such as seafood treasure dumplings and smoked sriracha wings.