Ping Pong Dim Sum?
I have not yet been because I am imagining it to be an overpriced, overtrendy, attempted "twist" on dim sum. I am kind of obsessed with good dim sum and good dumplings. For those travelling to Seattle or Vancouver, I recommend that you make some time for dim sum!
But a friend has arranged a group dinner there for Saturday night and I would love to hear recommendations from others as to what is good (or what to stay away from)!
I am not expecting Ping Pong to resemble the traditional dim sum experience at all (but maybe I'm wrong?). Recommendations on drinks would be great as well!
I read all the reviews and for some reason, STILL went to this place. Hey, I was in the area for lunch and I'm always looking for good dim sum so I gave it a shot. I was hoping things might have changed in the last 6 months. I was wrong. In retrospect, I should have trusted the reviews here and went elsewhere.
The Satay Squid, the pork dumpling and the shrimp dumpling were all bland. I never salt my food, but I was wishing there were salt shakers on the tables to come to the rescue. They all looked great, but there was just no flavor to any of them.
The duck spring roll was a little better, mostly due to the dipping sauce, but the duck was a little dry.
It's a nice looking place, but now that I've been there once, I don't feel the need to return.
Just thought I'd report back on our dinner at Ping Pong. Thankfully I was with a group of great friends so we were able to laugh at the whole situation, but let's just say I'm glad that I wasn't the one who selected the restaurant!
I was wary after reading the responses here. Instead of going with the set menus, I just decided to order two orders of the one dumpling that I thought could be good -- the chive and shrimp. It was fine, nothing remarkable, though others at the table thought it was the best dumpling of the night. Which is saying something, considered everyone else ordered the Ping Pong Collection of dumplings for 2 for $60.
There were three couples. Things were going fine at first -- three orders or pork puffs and shrimp won tons came out at the same time, about 10 minutes after we put our order in. We had also put in an order for a second round of drinks (and had checked on our menu to "keep the drinks flowing.") While the first wave of food arrived -- no drinks. The bottle of wine that I ordered with our first round of drinks the moment I sat down? No where to be seen. So we're wondering when our next round of drinks are going to get here because, well, we wanted to be drinking, and then the madness started. No longer was the food coming out in batches of three, it was just random bamboo baskets being thrown at our table. We had about 4 or 5 food runners that were just dropping the bamboo baskets (sometimes stacked, sometimes not) at one end of the long table. Their Ping Pong collection option included 13 different dumpling selections, and in the course of 20 minutes, ALL THE DISHES ARRIVED (so 13 x 3 = 39 dishes arriving). This may have been fine if they had, say, brought out three of the same dumplings at the same time so each couple could be able to organize their own food. But, no, that isn't how it happened. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to what types of dumplings were slewn at our table by the food runners. For example, one order of pork shu mai arrived as the first dish and the third order of pork shu mai arrived as the last dish. It was pure chaos.
After the last dishes came and people had shoved a number of dumplings down (all "fine" they said) we started to survey the disaster that was our table and we wondered "hey, where is that second round of drinks we ordered?" And trust me, we were all looking to swill down a few strong drinks to medicate ourselves from the high stress dumpling delivery. We flagged down our waitress "hey, where are our drinks? And how long does it take to bring out a bottle of wine?" She said they were on the way. 15 minutes goes by ....
We see our waitress again. "Hey, where are our drinks? And that bottle of wine ...?" She said, "they are on the way." We say: hm, this is taking a long time, can we put in an additional drink order so that we can try to speed up third round. She takes our drink order.
15 minutes goes by ... and we are thinking wow, we really want our drinks! Finally, at about 9:15 -- 1 hour and 15 minutes after we put in our drink order, our round of 6 drinks arrives. And that bottle of wine that I ordered at 7:30, well, it finally came to the table too. The problem was that I ordered a $50 bottle thinking we'd enjoy it over a nice leisurely dinner and well, it was now 9:15 and we'd finished dinner. We ended up calling the manager over, and asked why it took almost 2 hours to bring a bottle of wine to the table. He said that their system was set up so that no drink orders would go out to the tables until all food had been delivered. WHAT??!! That is the craziest thing I've ever heard!
So, he comped the bottle of wine (which was BEYOND DELICIOUS by the way: St. Supery Cab), which I thought was only fair. Our third round of drinks arrived, we had drunk ourselves into happy submission, and we pulled out our cards to pay. No problems on splitting the check. But of course, 18% gratuity automatically added. I see why they have to add it (who would tip the server well after this type of experience? But was it really her fault?).
Alas, I did not enjoy my experience at Ping Pong; it seemed like a trendy place to go, but no great value otherwise. We were there for a birthday dinner with a total of 10 people, and we all knew that we were a large crowd and tried to make it easy on the waitstaff. But they apparently didn't want to make it easy: sent 3 different servers to our table, not all at the same time, had us fill out several sheets to order, got everything wrong, missed a dish, and didn't get everyone's drink order.
This wasn't opening night, either.
On top of that, I found the food to be solidly mediocre. Though they had a menu that had authentic items, they weren't as good as you get at traditional dim sum places, and then the inventive items were just not impressive. However, that perception may have arisen because half our food was lava-hot and the other half was cool (when it wasn't supposed to be).
Even though I've been spoiled when it comes to quality dim sum, I'm generally cool with any dim sum that tastes good and isn't a giant hassle. Unfortunately, Ping Pong wasn't really cool with me.
Seems like it would be easier to have a single sheet per table and a single server per table with maybe another person assisting if it is a big table like ours was. Then maybe they could concentrate on the food?
Errr sorry to be a huge downer. Just giving you my experience. However, they might've worked out the kinks since I've been there - it was a while ago - and I am definitely for trying everything at least once, so on that note, I hope that you enjoy it!
re: chicken kabob
Overall I feel most of the dishes taste exactly a like. But the 2 dishes (or drink and dish) I mentioned above are good. I know a lot of people find themselves at this place for group birthday parties etc.
They are now opening a 2nd location across from my apartment building in Dupont. Honestly if it's up to me I would have chosen another restaurant to go in there.
It totally does not resemble a dim sum experience! If you tell yourself it's not dim sum, you may be less disappointed. Convoluted, but it often works for me (i.e. this is not really a bagel anyway, it's just a roll with a hole in it).
There were a few tasty items, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were- so what does that say?
I do, however, remember the cocktail with champagne, strawberry puree and balsamic vinegar. Yum.
I would say that I found it very difficult to distinguish among the various food items. I'm not sure how one makes shrimp taste like pork and vice versa, but they do it - and I don't mean that in a complimentary way!
Go simple. As simple as possible. Not because fancy stuff is bad, but because it all melds into each other anyway.