Tel: +44 (0)20 7851 6969
Address: 45 Great Marlborough Street, W1F 7JL
Cuisine Type: Chinese
When the dim sum craving hits, the best cure is simply to head straight to Chinatown and fill your boots. But what do you do if you’re struck like a thunderbolt in the middle of the week, when there is rarely a dim sum trolley to be found? Luckily the enterprising Kurt Zdesar saw the gap and filled it with the perfectly formed Ping Pong.
There’s no booking system, so here’s a tip: make sure you or your dim sum partner get there early, and get a drink at the bar. The staff will give you a number that ensures that once you’ve had a drink, you can go straight to the table, and avoid the queues snaking out the door. The cocktail menu is inventive and, on first glance, cheap, although with one major quibble – the 12.5% service charge on bar drinks is a bit tight; I’ll open the bottle myself, if it’s that taxing. Therefore my reasonable £5.50 Ping Pong cocktail (delicious, by the way – lychee, martini, white wine and grapes) came to £6.19, which was annoying.
The restaurant is huge, and really quite impressive. Beautiful dark wood tables, sweeping balustrades, and Chinese haikus on the ceiling, which look very nice, if a little pointless and hard to read. The ordering system is simple: there’s a proper menu with explanations of all the different dim sum, and a tally card, where you just write the amount you want next to the dish, and give to the staff. Depending on your own eyes:stomach ratio, you just keep adding to the card, and it keeps the food rolling in. There is also a set menu, consisting of steamed dumplings, rice and ice cream (£10) although natural greed overcame thrift, so we just went for it.
We steamrollered our way through roast pork puffs, steamed squid in satay sauce, little steamed dumplings of verdant spinach and mushroom, and pork with a ginger consommé, crisp fried hoi sin duck and jasmine chicken rolls, chilli squid cake and opulently cloud-like steamed char sui pork buns.
Each dish came with its own individual dipping sauce, including a jasmine sauce for the chicken rolls, a ginger broth for the pork dumplings, and a sweet spicy sauce with the squid cake, as well as soy and various chilli sauces. The food was fresh and vibrant: the steamed dumplings were juicy, and the squid cake thankfully not overcooked, which could have led to an embarrassing faux-pas, trying to divvy up the last one with chopsticks.
We drank a Chilean merlot at £16 that was perfectly palatable. Prices aren’t offensive either – about £2.80 – £3 per portion, coming to a total of about £20 a head, including wine.
Ping Pong is, quite frankly, a top dim sum venue. Perfectly placed for a pit stop during shopping, excellent set menu deals, and with another now open in Westbourne Grove, it’s obviously going to be around for some time.