Ping Pong restaurants – Year of the Dragon celebrations

The barman had to pop out to get some more basil seeds...

This week I lost my virginity! My Dim Sum virginity that is. And if I had to lose it, where better than at Ping Pong. We were invited along to the launch of the Chinese New Year festivities. Which, like the Chinese, Ping Pong are celebrating for 15 days. (Starting Jan 23 till Feb 5). Keep a close eye on their Facebook page for great prizes and their website for special Year of the Dragon events, such as cocktail making demos, a film festival and kid’s face painting to name but a few. Plus if you were born in the year of the Dragon, you can claim a free cocktail!

... to put in his newly created Chinese New Year cocktails.

Talking of cocktails the head barman has developed two new drinks for the festivities, a Dragon Kumquat, £6.60 (rum, fresh kumquat, Amaretto, apricot puree and basil seeds) and the Dragontini, £6.45 (black vodka, pear, limes, lychee liqueur and basil seeds). The head barman must really like basil seeds!

1st place goes to the Sweet Basil Seafood Soup If only this was a bigger bowl... Too delicious!

... And a very close 2nd, the Wu Xiang Lamb Spring Roll

We started with a few nibbles – crispy seaweed crackers, prawn crackers, dips and edamame beans before moving on to the special CNY dishes. First up was an amazing Sweet Basil Seafood Soup £3.95, prawns and mussels with water chestnut in a Tom Yam style broth. We would have been very happy had we been served this all evening! I loved the Wu Xiang Lamb Spring Roll too, £5.75, light crispy pancakes hugging the five herb marinated lamb.

A hint of chilli... Who you kidding!

Comfort food Ping Pong style.

On the menu the Seafood Wrap, £3.95, is described as having a hint of chilli… Wrong! These little parcels really pack a punch! Almost too hot even for Saff. Time to cool the taste buds with a Braised Beef Rice Pot, £6.50, a Chinese twist on a classic beef stew. Loads of top quality beef, fresh veg and a rich meaty sauce – the coconut rice is a nice touch.

Steamed parcels of deliciousness!

From the special set menus (starting from £9.99pp) we were offered the classic Crispy Duck Spring Rolls and Plum Sauce and the steamed Har Gau, Spicy Vegetable dumplings and Seafood dumplings. I’ve always been put off by the appearance of steamed Dim Sum, but I shouldn’t have been such a baby. They were all delicious, the Har Gau being our favourite. These little dumplings are all handmade daily by the Dim Sum master chefs… And they’re so much harder to make than they look, that’s why Ping Pong have started complimentary Dim Sum master classes, just to prove that point.

They wouldn't even give us the calorie count of this little beauty!

Magic in a glass...

... just add hot water to be amazed.

To finish off we were treated to a Chocolate Fondant, £4.75, gooey and bursting with rich warm dark chocolateness, served with vanilla ice-cream. For an amazing bit of table theatre, order a Dragon Eye flowering tea. I’m not going to say too much but it’s almost magic… Just keep watching the ‘ball of tea’ as it’s covered in hot water, how do they make those? Oh, and the actual tea tastes great too.

Keep an eye out for the 5 different especially designed illustrations on the back of the CNY menus and the staff’s t-shirts, I love the modern dragon image by Freya Harrison best… Ping Pong should sell these as posters, we’d love one to frame on our wall.

I enjoyed losing my Dim Sum virginity so much that I’m going back to Ping Pong next week to do it all over again…

For your nearest Ping Pong and opening times click here.