Chinese New Year is traditionally a time spent with family and friends, and is one of the most important dinners of the year. Although CNY hasn’t usually been at the top of my list of celebrations, I would happily use it as a good excuse to have a catch up with a good friend and indulge in some Chinese delights. What better place to do this than an evening at lively Ping Pong on the South Bank.
I started off with a gorgeous cocktail from their huge list. A tasty lychee martini which came topped with a pretty mini rose. The fresh lemon and lychee juice gave it a sweet kick. My friend soon joined and a dry white wine was swiftly put in front of her. These guys were quick of the mark.
I love the Ping Pong concept. You get a menu sheet and simply mark the dishes you would like. This is both convenient and dangerous, as we ended up ticking almost everything.
While sipping our drinks in anticipation of our upcoming feast, we started with some black sesame seed prawn crackers. With Ping Pong, food arrives as each dish is ready, which was fine by us!
The crispy chilli squid was first to arrive: with chopsticks already in hand, we dive in. The squid was super light and non-greasy. A salty and spicy coating made the pieces so moreish.
Next, a little pot of heaven. Honeyed chilli chicken was mixed with soya beans, shiitake mushroom, and jasmine rice. The rice was perfectly cooked, not too sticky and not too dry, with the chicken bursting with spicy flavours.
We indulged in a rather naughty portion of prawn toast with sesame seeds. The standard triangles went out of the window here. The rounded prawn goodies were just lightly fried letting the ingredients do the talking. We dunked away in the tangy mango sauce on the side.
It was now time for the steamed baskets. These always get me excited when the lid is lifted and you get that first smell of what’s inside. The char sui buns were like fluffy, silky clouds. Beautifully light and stuffed full of honey barbecued pork; they tore apart with ease and just melted in the mouth.
I’m a big fan of seafood dim sum, so the crab and prawn dumpling was a must. With just a hint of ginger, they were so good: gone in a second.
More juicy prawns arrived in the form of har gau. This was my favourite; the smooth texture of the translucent pastry along with the burst of flavour inside was to die for.
One of the specials caught my eye as I’d never seen glitter on a menu. The seafood treasure dumplings were just as special as they sound: scallop, cod, vermicelli, shrimp and mushroom, wrapped in a wheat beetroot pastry. The pretty dumplings were finished with edible glitter. I hope these are a permanent addition to the menu.
The dumpling baskets just kept on coming. Spicy chicken parcels were stuffed with fresh vegetables with hints of chilli. These were a great crunchy contrast to the other soft dishes.
The best was saved till last. We were asked if we still had room, to which we obviously replied yes. Out came delicate pieces of roasted pork belly with bao buns. In my opinion this is the ultimate dish you must try when coming to Ping Pong.
The fluffy white steamed buns were logo branded, a great personalised touch. Fantastic presentation served on a board with cucumber, pickled ginger and a sweet five spice sauce. The juicy pork was absolutely delicious.
We had a great evening at Ping Pong: the dishes were top quality, amazingly tasty and well presented. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff, they were attentive, friendly and swift. Whether you want a quick dim sum lunch or a long lazy dinner like us, I couldn’t recommend Ping Pong more.
Ping Pong – Southbank
Festival Terrace, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX