Restaurant Review: Ping Pong, BKC Serves An Interesting Food Game

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When I first heard that Ping Pong—the London (and now, also Dubai) dim sum chain synonymous with good, quick and value-for-money Cantonese fare—was setting up an outpost in aamchi Mumbai, I was beyond excited. Never mind the presence of a dime-a-dozen similar places mushrooming all over the city like some overactive mutating culinary virus. Having being a loyal patron at almost all of Ping Pong’s eight London outlets in my salad days as a student there, its presence in my home city was true-blue nostalgia-laced comfort. To say that I love my dim sum would be the understatement of the century. Try ‘obsessed’!

The Ping Pong
The Ping Pong

So, bubbling with unbridled excitement and high expectations, I trooped into the rather impressive looking, large eatery one Saturday afternoon accompanied by two fellow dim sum addicts to partake in all Ping Pong had on offer. With a subtle oriental leitmotif in the form of Chinoiserie style wooden screens and Chinese alphabet calligraphy on the ceiling and on a few of the lamps, the décor is classy (in a dark, brooding sort of way), sophisticated and not in your face. One of the first things that strike you is the genuine warmth and friendliness of the eager-to-please staff—all kitted out in trendy black t-shirts and jeans, emphasizing the causal relaxed vibe Ping Pong exudes.

With rumours flying around cyberspace of the food being made in a centralized kitchen somewhere overseas (some said Malaysia, others London…); I couldn’t resist putting Dennis, the restaurant manager through my very own inquisition. Only when I was thoroughly convinced that barring a few sauces and the exact recipes of the food and drinks, everything else was indigenously desi, that I loosened up a bit as our first order materialized barely minutes after placing it. A round of drinks like the yummy potent gin-based Lychee and Rose Marini, a deceptively low on alcohol signature Ping Pong Long (with almost zero Martini Bianco-White Wine overpowered by Lychee Juice) and a fragrant Flowering Jasmine-Lily Green Tea were accompanied by a huge basket of Maodou or steamed edamame beans that were as addictive as they were simple and rustic.

King prawn & scallop sticky rice
King prawn & scallop sticky rice

The USP of Ping Pong’s rather limited menu is such that it has no scope for any sort of distinction between starters and mains and that is something that may take a while for us to cotton on to. One orders looking at the menu and then proceeds to check out the dishes in tiny boxes on an order slip that is handed over to the server who then processes the order.

With suggestions being thrown in from everyone from Dennis to our server and coupled with each of us three’s wish dishes, our order slip truly runneth over with options! But quite alarmingly, that day a lot of the seafood (a personal favourite!) dishes seemed to be conspicuous by their absence as the chef was apparently not satisfied with the produce available that day and so he had cancelled quite a few of the dishes. But whatever we did eventually order made their debut on our table rather quickly, much to our delight. While we found the Crispy Prawn Ball pretty OKish, the silken skin and luscious belly of the delicate king prawn Har Gau and that of the Scallop and Shiitake Dumpling was outstanding, ably aided by the trio of dipping sauces. The clear favourite among them being the Citrus and Mandarin one. Among the baked dim sum, the Honey Roasted Chicken Puff was a tad too sweet with an unnecessary topping of fresh pineapple, while the Hoi Sin Vegetable Puff had a very more-ish appeal. The stringy and dry Lemon Chicken with a horribly artificial and acrid-tasting lemon juice (from a bottle I suspect) squirted over it was a letdown as was the Spicy Chilli Squid that was allegedly ‘lightly battered’ though we had a tough time deciphering that from the thick, powdery, undercooked batter that coated the rubbery chopped bits of the cephalopod.

Crispy prawn balls
Crispy prawn balls

But a bright ray of sunshine took the form of the Vietnamese Rice Paper Prawn Roll accompanied by a divine dipping sauce. Another favourite at our table was the Vegetable Sticky Rice parcels wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf revealing themselves as we gleefully unwrapped out foodie present, as it were! Still a tad peckish we ordered the Chicken Rice Pot and the Seafood Noodle Pot that were competent enough with their respective tasty morsels of chicken and prawn, but very miserly portioned.

Desserts were a posse of a moist slice of delectable Steamed Banana Cake, a rather unusual and yum Fluffy Chinese Ginger Cake and a run-of-the-mill Molten Chocolate Cake, all three served up without any flair and imagination on identical rectangular plates with identical blobs of boring vanilla ice-cream aiming to jazz up them up when they needed no such thing… well maybe the stodgy molten cake did.

All said and done, Ping Pong makes a confident serve in the long drawn out game Mumbai’s pan-Asian restaurants seem to be playing so very competitively these days. But to emerge victorious, it needs to put on its game face and up the ante. And that’s saying the very least!

WHERE? First International Financial Centre, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex. Call, 022 67413333.
HOW MUCH? Rs 1,750 for two without alcohol.
WHEN? 12pm to 12.30am
WHAT’S HOT? The very friendly, attentive servers and the lightening quick processing of your food and drinks order.
WHAT’S NOT? Despite a three-hour long meal, one still feels a tad hungry after a tryst with the fare here, with the meager portions lustily crying out “supersize me!”
SHOULD YOU GO THERE? Erm… yes

 

Post By Raul Dias (102 Posts)

Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.

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Raul Dias

Raul Dias
Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.