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Dec 15, 2009 11:52 AM

Any reviews yet on Ping Pong Dim Sum in Gallery Place/Chinatown?

I know they just opened this past weekend but I was hoping for some early feedback. Thanks.

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  1. I'm also curious to hear about reviews. Also in the beginning of January I'm looking to hold an event with anywhere from 10-25 people. It's a happy hour deal with appetizers and I was thinking Ping Pong Dim Sum might be a fun location. Can anyone who has been tell me if the bar area is set up for this type of thing? Is there a lounge area?

    I plan to check it out before the event of course, but if there is only 1 small bar I'll cross it off my list to begin with.

    1. I don't have any direct experience there yet, but two people I know have eaten there so far and were very happy with it. I have no idea what their prior dim sum experience was, though...

      1. Went tonight. Cool space. Very large. Pretty empty at 6:30 but started to fill up after that. Started with cockails at the bar. I had an Asian Manhattan which was very smooth, the twist was the addition of some plum wine that rounded it out quite nicely. My friend had a wasabi and amaretto sour that sounded horrible but actually was an interesting twist on a classic sour and it worked. Bar staff was friendly and eager to offer suggestions and help. They're apparently getting a lot of training, which is a good thing. Moved to a table for food. You order your dim sum from a check list after perusing the menu with descriptions. Based on staff suggestions we got crispy duck spring rolls, which were fine but I'm not a fan of most fried egg roll type offerings, a small plate of pickled cabbage and bamboo shoots, which was ok but I've had better at mediocre Chinese restaurants, a pork puff of barbequed pork and sauteed onions that was wonderful, light and tasty and nothing like the pork bun I was expecting. We absolutely loved the scallop and shitake dumplings and the griddled spicy basil dumplings. We split opinions on the fried shrimp ball. I thought it was just ok but my friend liked it. We both liked the traditioinal sticky rice, which actually tasted like traditional dim sum, unlike most of what we ordered. Most offerings came in threes. We also shared a bottle of middling but reasonably priced Gruener Veltliner which worked well with the food. Their wine list has a lot of affordable offerings most of which I wasn't familiar with. Everything with tax and tip was $110, which is a lot for dim sum even with drinks and wine. That said, we will go back to try more things and reorder what we really liked. In early January they plan to offer a happy hour menu. They also have several combination dim sum offerings for $15-18 that look like a very good deal and allow you to try one each of about 10-12 kinds available until 5 pm. Even if its not cheap, it is way better than anything in the District.

        What I didn't like: the seating. Hard plank seats at tables and at the bar, none of which have backs. Even the banquettes did not have cushions. I was chatted with some folks on the way out and their reaction was the same as mine. The seats are horribly uncomfortable. Either the designer didn't have a clue or they dont' want you hanging around for very long. So next time I will probably go for happy hour at the bar and leave within the hour. It is not condusive to lingering, despite the attractive interior. Another complaint is that the tables for two are very small, especially if several plates come out at once and fill up the table.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ellen

          How big is the bar area? I'm thinking of holding a happy hour event there of anywhere from 10-20 women. Do you think this would work at Ping Pong?

          1. re: Elyssa

            Yes. In addition to bar seating there are plenty of tables in that area to accommodate a decent sized party. There is also a large back room that wasn't opened last night but look like it could hold a lot of people.

          2. re: Ellen

            ::brain aneurysm from just the thought of spending $110 on dim sum for even 8 people::

            1. re: yfunk3

              will have to check it out, but its unsettling to see that the drink menu is as big as the food offerings. i can see people now, going there and ordering one dish for themselves. and eating it for dinner...

              1. re: yfunk3

                I don't think Ellen named the number of diners, but let's hold off on the exaggeration.

                $110 for 8 diners is less than $14/person, which is very reasonable for good dim sum.

                1. re: DanielK

                  Yeah, it sounds like there were two diners. However, don't forget alcohol was probably a large portion of the bill - not normally the case at a standard dim sum place!

                  I can't wait to try out Ping Pong dim sum. Sounds scrumptious.

                  1. re: hamster

                    Alcohol was slightly less than half the bill. You can look at the prices on the menu and see what each dish costs relative to a traditional dim sum menu. And yes there were only two of us. Much cheaper if you go before 5, order a dim sum combo, and don't drink.

                    1. re: Ellen

                      Thank you for the pioneering report. How did you feel the overall dim sum quality and taste compared to the real dim sum places around town?

                      1. re: chowsearch

                        Can't compare one on one since this is clearly intended to be modernized upscale (and therefore much more expensive) dim sum, not your grandmothers dim sum. But in that vein, most of it was very good, some is more traditional, and I will go back to try more. As I noted some of the dishes were excellent. I don't really care if they are "real", just real good. And happy hour will get the price down for some if not all of the items.

            2. I so wanted to love this place but my initial impression is only fair. The large space is quite nice, though I echo a previous poster's sentiments about hard seats. The bar stools were quite uncomfortable. The staff was eager to help. We had the St. Germain "sangria" which was not sangria at all but delicious - with lots of lemongrass flavor. We tried 5 dishes - bok choy, pork puffs, veggie dumplings, spicy basil dumplings and the pork tenderloins (cutlets?). Though some of the dishes were starred on the menu as spicy, none were at all spicy. The basil dumplings were tasty, but TINY. They needed the vinegar sauce that came with them to perk them up. The pork tenderloin was very good and I would order that again. Veggie dumplings and pork puffs tasted like standard supermarket frozen stuff - Trader Joe's came to mind. The bok choy was beautiful and fresh, but the serving was the size of a garnish. Very, very small, even for dim sum. After 5 dishes (two people sharing) I was still hungry. So I might try it again during happy hour, but I wouldn't prefer to eat there again at full price.

              1. I stopped by there tonight before 5:00 to check it out. I really like the look of the place - very sleek, clean and modern. I sat at the bar, on a very high and slippery bar stool. Before 5:00, cocktails are half price and there are several (about 6?) dim sum offerings that cost $3.00. Choosing from among those, I picked three. One of them was spectacular: the char sui steamed pork buns. The bread was light as air and pleasantly sticky and the pork filling was delicious. I ended up wishing I'd gotten two orders of those and skipped the rest. I also ordered the pork puffs which I thought were greasy and way too sweet, and "Vietnamese spring rolls" which I erroneously assumed would be the fresh type, but they were fried - and tiny. It was also more food than I expected. I think two plates is enough for one person - or at least that should be the initial order for one person. As I decided to forgo having a drink as I was in a hurry, the bill was under $10.

                Ping Pong Dim Sum
                900 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                1 Reply
                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                  I went back a second time, a few months ago, specifically to get the char sui steamed pork buns. They didn't have them on the menu that day, so I left. Now that I know they are fickle about making those available, I'm less likely to return for a third visit.