Published on July 29th, 2015 | by Rebecca Anne Milford0
Ping Pong Dim Summer Menu
The words ‘Ping Pong’ will mean different things to different people. To some it will bring back memories of fierce sibling rivalry from games played thwacking a little ball across the table on family holidays; to some it might evoke a shudder as they recall an ill-advised trip off the beaten path in Thailand; and to others – including me – it will elicit sighs of delight at the prospect of little parcels of steamed goodness.
I remember my first trip to Ping Pong on Great Marlborough Street, nearly ten years ago. I was visiting my older (so naturally far more sophisticated and cosmopolitan) friend who had headed up to London for university, and we were out to dinner. There we sat, in an ornately oriental and yet stylishly modern restaurant, presented with a long list of dishes and a pencil for ticking off what we’d like. The concept was wholly new to me and therefore thoroughly incredible.
I still get that frisson of excitement when I visit now, and I have meandered around most of the 8 London sites in my time. Ping Pong has been open since 2005, and are going strong with their offerings of exotic cocktails, fragrant teas and of course that tasty dim sum that’s so prefect for sharing. So it was with great excitement that I headed back to the location of my first ever experience to try the new Dim Summer menu.
Cocktails have always been a strong addition to the Ping Pong menu, thanks to the inventiveness of the list and use of key Asian ingredients. A favourite of mine all these years has been the lychee martini – sweet, with a burst of exotic fruit, and yet nicely delicate too. This is still on the menu, and naturally has a great many fans.
Well, now the new Summer menu is offering even more tantalizing libations, with the addition of three drinks sure to whet the appetite. We tried the Lychee Spritz – long, refreshing, with a pleasant effervescence of bubbles that balanced the saltiness of the dim sum well and had us yearning for warm summer evenings. I wondered if perhaps I had found a new favourite with the Nashi Pussycat cocktail that is a glorious combination of Jinzu gin with yellow gold oolong tea and nashi pear – it created just the right balance of sharp, strong and sweet. It arrived the colour of golden straw, and really packed a punch.
On to the menu, and naturally dim sum reigns supreme. These soft, translucent tidbits are stuffed with all manner of delicious filling, and my favourites include the scallop and shitake dumpling and the spicy chicken dumpling. They arrive in stacked bamboo steamers, delicate and yielding, but when you bite into them a burst of flavour suddenly breaks free. It’s unlike any food experience you’ve had, and I adore it.
But hang on before you over-order on those mouthwatering little capsules, because Dim Summer sees a new contender for most delicious dish enter the arena. Now, not to say I was skeptical, but I did wonder what could turn my attention away from my beloved dumplings. However… bring on the Bao Burgers – freshly steamed buns inspired by the street food of Hong Kong. There are three options – Smoked Duck, Chargrilled Vegetable, and Chilli Prawn, and we chose the latter.
It arrived with due ceremony – four pillowy steamed buns, kind of like soft cream-coloured purses, with a cluster of huge golden fried prawns with a chilli coating curled next to them, some pickled carrot and mooli, avocado, and a plum mustard sauce. The idea is to take a DIY approach – stuff your own buns, as it were. We did so, took a bite… and were transported to the foodie heaven of Asia – warm, humid air; incredible smells of chilli and coriander; the bright lights of a city reflecting from glinting woks. I shouldn’t be surprised I was so enamoured – I do love hirata buns, and similar dishes are popping up all over the place. It seems Ping Pong might be vying for best place to come and enjoy them too, as they were absolutely superb.
We were pleasantly full after all of these morsels, but not too full to try the newest dessert of Yuzu Matcha Finger Cake – a scrumptious layer of matcha green tea biscuit base (it had that unique, slightly earthy taste that only matcha has), followed by a vibrant burst of mango and passion fruit compote, with some citrus yuzu mousse on top. This made for a dessert that wasn’t too sweet and had an appealing texture with each mouthful.
So there we are. Whether sipping exotic libations, binging on Bao Burgers or over-ordering on steamed dumplings, Ping Pong’s Dim Summer Festival has something for any diner, and is the hot place to be this season.
The Dim Summer menu is available until 31st August at all 8 restaurants across London