Happy Chinese New Year!
To kick off the Chinese New Year, Mr Q and I thought we’d drop into London’s Chinatown to take a look at the festivities. Unfortunately, the rain and the cold drove us from crowded, noisy Gerrard Street to the more sedate area around Carnaby Street.
For our Chinese New Year’s dim sum fix, we headed straight for Ping Pong with our friend Bron (I know, I know, Ping Pong has a reputation as a very sleek, modern and ‘westernised’ version of the traditional eastern cuisine), but Chinatown was just so crowded and we didn’t fancy waiting in the rain for a table for a proper trolley-service dim sum restaurant.
When we arrived, the Ping Pong Lazy Sumdays all-you-can-eat concept was explained to us by our waiter, and we received our free Ping Pong cocktail, available to those dining between 12pm – 1pm. The cocktail was a mix of martini bianco, white wine and lychee juice served with asian basil seeds – a lovely refreshing tall icy drink that we mostly enjoyed (Mr Q didn’t like the texture of the slimy basil seeds, which reminded me of bubble tea).
The ‘tally sheet’ ordering system was a great way to order, but it took a long time before our order was collected. The harried waitress explained to us that they’d not rostered on enough staff, but to me it seemed the staff just weren’t efficient enough. One of the waiters was re-stocking straws, napkins and chopsticks behind the bar while dozens of hungry diners were waving their tally sheets trying to get some attention. Anyway, we weren’t in a rush, so for us it wasn’t too much of a problem.
Our first ’round’ of dim sum consisted of several types of steamed dumplings, duck spring rolls, prawn toast, sticky rice and edemame beans. All top quality, but nothing extraordinary. For the next two rounds, between the three of us, we ordered one of everything from the rest of the menu. No complaints from me – I’d say the selection and the quality was as good as any authentic Chinatown establishment I’ve been to, just a little on the expensive side.
My only real disappointment was when I realised that Chinese jasmine tea wasn’t included in the all-you-can-eat options, which would have been a nice touch (and an inexpensive extra for the restaurant to offer). Also, for the additional 12.5% service charge, I expected better service too.
The three of us did manage to eat £120.00 worth of food for only £70.00, so I suppose we got our money’s worth, but I’m not certain I’d eat Ping Pong Dim Sum at regular prices on weekdays – it’s pretty pricey. It also took two hours to eat our meal, from arrival to settling the bill – a pretty big chunk of time from our afternoon.
Go visit Ping Pong on a Sunday for their Lazy Sumdays all-you-can-eat promotion if you have a massive appetite, and if you’re not in a rush. They have several London locations, and you can book a table through toptable.com. Otherwise, I’d advise you spend your money in an authentic Chinese restaurant, you’ll get more bang for your buck and a speedier experience.