Snap-shot verdict: Wonderful decor and ambience, but some dishes are winners while others leave something to be desired.
Here’s the thing about small plates. I love them, but I hate them. You see, I love to eat, and 99% of the time I leave a tapas/small plates restaurant still hungry — at least I do when I’m out with people whom I can’t risk frightening. Anyway, this is my long-winded way of telling you that Ping Pong Dim Sum is (to me) one of those places. But, with the reasonable prices I can thankfully keep eating until I’m full.
Ping Pong opened up back in December 2009 and serves on average 3,200-4,000 guests per week. The best part of the restaurant is the design — think cool light fixtures, round tables, wooden benches, and mood lighting of sorts. There’s definitely a coolness factor here, especially if you’re in that young professional crowd.
Ping Pong might be new to DC, but there are a dozen in London, plus Dubai and Brazil. The website boasts the “steamed parcels of deliciousness.” Here, steam is the main ingredient.
Winners include the Chicken puff honey-roasted chicken with pineapple; I always love the mix of flavors when you have chicken served with fruit like this. The scallop & Shiitake in translucent pastry also succeeds because the wrap isn’t overwhelming but perfect. I enjoyed the spicy seafood & wonton soup as well, but the dish would do better with more seafood and less broth.
You can’t leave here without trying a bunch of the spring rolls, coriander & king prawn, shrimp toast, and of course dumplings. Stay away from the overcooked satay squid.
Now as for the service…I’ll give Ping Pong a break here, because I normally get friendly service with the waiter even reminding the table that you might want 4 plates per person. This time around service was lacking, but maybe it was because of the snowstorm. God knows the snow had me in a bad mood too, but there’s really nothing I hate more than begging for a drink or a menu.
Somehow Ping Pong manages to be trendy, cozy, and classy all at once. Because to me the atmosphere is a huge part of the whole experience, this restaurant will always be on my “go to list.” I also like places that do well with groups, which Ping Pong does, while also managing to be a place that would be great for a first casual date.
“Our brand is simple and ‘ownable,'” says Ping Pong Marketing Manager Myca Ferrer. “Traditional dim sum, innovative beverage, showstopping flowering teas – very China with a twist. We mean entirely different things to different groups of people.”
Definitely go to Ping Pong for the happy hour; it’s one of the best deals in DC. It’s easy to over-indulge here, but really, I’m pleading, please do not clear out my first plates before I’m even done so that you can bring out my second. I hate feeling rushed.
The popular dim sum restaurant will soon have a second location in DC, Dupont Circle and late second quarter 2011 to be exact. Congratulations! If you haven’t been here yet, check it out.
Ping Pong Dim Sum is located at 900 7th St NW. The closest metro stop is Gallery Place – Chinatown (Red/Green Lines). For more information call 202-506-3740.