Dinner Date at Ping Pong

I had a dinner date with hubby at Ping Pong restaurant last night, and we were transported to Dim Sum heaven!

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Ping Pong opened its doors in Wembley (London) in 2005, and their Dubai branch is located on the ground-floor of Dubai Mall, in front of Bloomingdales.

If you are looking for an endless array of Dim Sums, artisan cocktails and authentic Chinese teas, this is the place to be.

Ping Pong’s ambience is a trendy, modern take of a quaint Chinese teahouse with benched seating and tasteful interior design inspired by a very Zen color palette of deep woody browns interspersed with new-age hues of bright bamboo green. The Ping Pong branch in Dubai Mall follows the same look and feel of its predecessor in London which has won numerous prestigious awards for ‘Restaurant and Bar Design’.

The staff at Ping Pong are very friendly and seem well-versed with the menu offerings. The Dim Sum menu is extensive, and I like the very modern DIY format of ordering: You get a printed list of all the menu items and just tick away all the goodies you crave on your table.

Our waiter suggested we order at least 5 dishes as the order quantities are small (each Dim Sum order gives you 3 dumplings). With so many options to choose from, I think we went a little overboard!

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Below is our basket of Black Prawn Dumplings. They get their flamboyant black coloring from a generous coating of Squid Ink. If you watch Master Chef, you’d be familiar with all the fuss over Squid Ink. My husband is not a seafood fan, and found these too ‘fishy’, so these beauties were all mine!

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The translucent Spicy Chicken Dumplings below went beautifully well with the fiery chili-shrimp paste that accompanied them.

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Each Dim Sum has its own kind of sauce. The dainty Shrimp Dim Sums, steamed and lightly pan-fried to taste, were served with a tangy-hot green mango sauce.

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Ping Pong’s Crispy Duck Spring Rolls were one of my favorite dishes of the night. Deep fried to a gorgeous golden brown, the outer layer had the perfect amount of crunch, and the flavors of the marinated duck encased within simply oozed out at first bite.

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With so many dumplings on the table, its easy to get confused about which basket has what. Ping Pong has it all sorted with name-tags on the side. ‘Har Gau’ is a steamed shrimp Dim Sum and happens to be one of Ping Pong’s most-ordered items.DSC_0372

Our waiter insisted we try the ‘King Prawn and Scallop Sticky Rice’. It is basically a ball of sticky rice with a mildly spicy king prawn and shrimp filling that has been wrapped in banana leaf and steamed.

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Ceremoniously unwrapping a parcel is always synonymous with gift-receiving, and this little ritual had the child in me rather excited. Don’t go by the bland white look of the rice ball, the filling was simply divine, and I had mine with a big dollop of chili paste.

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And aren’t the Crispy Prawn Balls below simply stunning? The outer layer is made of wheat flour shreds, and the dumplings are deep-fried to perfection. This was one crunchy mouthful and rather tricky to maneuver with chopsticks. I relished every morsel!

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Why are Dim Sums always served in threes? Wouldn’t it be more practical to serve an even number of dumplings?

The staff had no answer to this question. Perhaps they want couples to have chopstick wars over the last dumpling!

I looked this up with Google and it seems 3 is an auspicious Chinese number, whereas 4 is believed to bring bad luck.

For drinks, hubby ordered the one named after the restaurant. The ‘Ping Pong’ drink is a concoction of raspberry puree muddled into guava juice and garnished with shisho leaves. I had a sip and thought it tasted like the tropics, and guava dominated the mix. It is quite a heavy drink, so you might want to sip conservatively so that you can have more Dim Sums!

I ordered the Strawberry & Coconut Martini. It came in a stylish martini glass and tasted rather fruity. It’s consistency is more like a smoothie than a martini.

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Our waiter recommended the Lychee Rose drink. It is apparently the most popular drink on the menu, and we can see why! Refreshingly lychee with a hint of rose, the miniature dried rose in the glass added to the drink’s beauty.

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Finally, for a sweet ending, we ordered Steamed Chocolate Buns and Baked Mango Dumplings.

The Chocolate Buns were soft and fluffy, and the fluid dark-chocolate filling had me thinking this is a healthier Chinese version of a Chocolate Molten Cake.

The lightly salted exterior of the Baked Mango Dumplings married well with the refreshing mango sorbet that was served by its side.

Although I enjoyed both the desserts, if I was to choose between the two, I’d go for the later (the sweet freshness of the sorbet made for the perfect ending to this elaborate meal).

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Ping Pong’s tagline is ‘Dim Sum, Cocktails and Tea’ so a meal at this joint would be incomplete without a glass of their signature Flowering Tea. We had their ‘Jasmine Tea Garden’.

Ping Pong’s Flowering Teas are truly magical!

First we are given a glass with a ball of Green Tea at the bottom. Looks pretty sad and uninteresting don’t you think?

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Then starts the magic. Steaming hot water is poured into the glass (I am so in love with this quaint-looking copper kettle!)…

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Our lovely waiter Ryan asks us to wait patiently for about a minute…

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…and then voila!

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Before our eyes, the little ball of tea morphs into our very own garden-in-a-glass!

You can also take home a box of Ping Pong’s Flowering Tea to impress the hell out of your next tea-drinking visitor!

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You can watch the magic unfold in Ping Pong’s Flowering Tea video here.

Overall Ping Pong was a very interesting dining experience. The beauty of eating at Ping Pong is that you can try a variety of different options in one sitting. Furthermore, you can choose to eat light and catch up with friends over a snack, or make a meal of it like we did.

Ping Pong has a huge fan following in the UAE, and will be opening its second branch in Arabian Ranches this March.

Till then, book a Dim Sum date at Ping Pong, The Dubai Mall.

Ping Pong Dim Sum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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