As a restaurant group, Ping Pong has been around for a relatively long period of time and given the spate of restaurant groups closing down their branches in recent months, it is a testimony to the strength of the products offered by Ping Pong that they seem to be going from strength to strength. One of their most popular branches is their Southbank branch, which is popular with both the commuters post-work near Waterloo station, the theatre-loving Royal Festival Hall visitors or just people bewitched by the romance of Southbank.
They have undergone some minor refurbishments in recent times: gone are the large round sharing tables that were in theory ideal for the sharing concept of dim sum, but perhaps not popular with the romantic dates crowd. And they have accentuated their oriental features; during our visit, they had a spectacular display of quaint umbrellas and lanterns suspended from the ceiling. Their lounge bar on the first floor is still as exquisitely presented as before.
It’s always an absolute joy visiting Ping Pong because they never rest on their laurels but constantly seek to innovate. We went along to try some of their Chinese New Year Specials along with classics from their existing menu. Beef satay dumpling is one that should be staying on their permanent menu with the explosion of flavours from the beetroot steamed pastry to the satay sauce and sriracha sauce inside along with the delicious tasting beef, shiitake mushroom, and water chestnut.
If you are looking for more substantial items, then their grilled sesame chicken bun is the dish for you with fluffy soft wheat flour pastry buns encasing succulent pieces of tender chicken. Crispy aubergine baos from their existing menu are equally satisfying although you have to be careful not to eat all the ingredients first without putting them inside the bao which happened to our neighbour on the night and also previously when we ordered takeaway from Ping Pong. The sticky rice worked less well, as the fragrantness of the lotus leaf failed to seep through to the rice.
Ping Pong has always been an extremely vegetarian-friendly restaurant and their new Chinese New Year menu is no exception. I enjoyed their auspicious sounding buddha’s delight dumpling which had a delightfully thin saffron pastry along with healthy ingredients inside with the likes of Chinese leaves, shiitake mushroom, bean curd, bamboo, mooli, pumpkin seeds and yellow bean sauce.
Whether you go for their Chinese New Year Menu which is available until early March or their classic menu, these little parcels of joy are guaranteed to bring immense happiness for The Year of the Dog.