LONDON | Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the Year of the Dog and what better way to celebrate than at Ping Pong with their mouth watering Chinese New Year Menu. The Covent Garden branch of the dim sum chain is modestly stylish, spacious, electric with a flagrant mix of spices, inviting meaty aromas and of course celebrations, in the air.
We were invited to check out a selection of regular and CNY dishes at Ping Pong and upon our arrival, we were handed the menu – a lengthy list of traditional Chinese share plates which reads as a “greatest hits” of mostly Cantonese and Shanghainese dishes such as Flower Bread Rolls and Unicorn Chicken Noodle Salad. At around £5 each, it was hard not to get carried away with the DIY checklist ordering!
Once the food christened our tables, it was time to kick off the CNY celebration with an almighty feast. Each small plate had a generous portion and immaculately presented. Deep fried squid was crisp and moist without being overly greasy. Part of the CNY specials, the crispy lamb gyoza had a smoky meaty taste, well seasoned with garlic Szechuan chilli and shaoxing wine marmalade wrapped in wheat pastry and lightly fried for a crunchy and slight golden finish. It was accompanied with a wi xiang sweet sauce which took the gyoza to a whole new level. A favourite of the feast was the Buddha’s Dumpling Delight – how could something look so delicately pretty, yet so edible? The steamed dim sum made from a saffron pastry cloying in texture and vivid yellow colour was stuffed with Chinese leaves, shiitake mushroom, bean curd, bamboo, mooli, pumpkin seeds and yellow bean sauce.
Unfortunately the cherry wood smoked chicken wings marinated with tangy tomato chilli sauce didn’t fare in comparison to the rest of the dishes – the texture and flavours just didn’t work. The well constructed vegetable sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves was trickiest to eat out of the bunch and rather lacklustre in flavour. The Spinach and shiitake mushroom dumplings saw a return to form thankfully and were smooth, chewy and tender. The were filled with soy sauce and fresh ginger wrapped with wheat flour pastry with spicy mango sauce which added a punchy flavour.
We washed it all down with a refreshing tall glass of sweet and minty mix of goji berries, mango juice and peppermint leaves. Our feast ended on a high with the sweet and sticky Salted caramel and coconut rice dessert, a real winning dessert dish and also part of the Chinese New Year specials.
Overall, our Ping Pong experience was hit and miss. While most of this dishes were of quality, the ones that didn’t were noticeably not up to scratch. Service was warm and friendly, however efficiency could be better, as could the ordering system with regards to helping staff record (and remember) orders. Given the level of competition in London’s dim sum scene at the moment, it’s hard to recommend Ping Pong’s Covent Garden branch as a first choice option, but if you visit and order the right things, you can still have an enjoyable, good value experience.
Ping Pong (Covent Garden)
23-24 Maiden Lane
London WC2E 7NA
Telephone: 020 7952 2450
Mon – Wed: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Thu: 11:00am to 11:30pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am to 12:00am
Sun: 11:00am to 10:30pm