|Baked & Fried Dim Sum
I haven't finished yet! The green chive dumpling did contain prawns as promised, but there were no chives, just a load of other random filler. The chicken shu mai (sic) was a bit dry, which is why this open-topped dumpling is usually made with fatty pork to give it a juicy quality. And to cap it all off, the vegetable sticky rice was bland and stodgy. In short, this bamboo steamer represented the Room 101 of dim sum.
To drink, I went for vintage pu-erh tea (£2.25). This was high quality stuff, but it was served in a glass. This meant no refills, and as the glass had no handle and I don't have Teflon hands, it was very tricky to drink. In total, the bill came to £17.38 including 12.5% service. Whilst not exactly exorbitant, there are loads of places where you can eat more and better dim sum for the same price.
Two, maybe three, acceptable dim sum out of eleven is pretty lamentable, and the food was as poor as I remembered from my previous visit to Ping Pong a few years ago. This is a pity, as there's definitely a niche in the market for an accessible quality eatery to attract those who might not otherwise check out dim sum the old school way. In fact, there is a risk that some are put off dim sum altogether by Ping Pong. And that really would be a crying shame.
But let's not single out Ping Pong, or even chain restaurants for that matter. Other cities have top quality chains that I'd love to see in London. Just imagine if instead of Ping Pong, we could eat dumplings from Din Tai Fung and wouldn't it be great if we could slurp noodles at Ippudo instead of Wagamama? We can dream, but as long as Londoners settle for second-rate crap, they will be locked in the chains that they deserve. Or to put it in the words of some Welsh blokes: IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE NEXT.
Ping Pong, 45 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7JL
(Tel: 020-7851-6969) Nearest station: Oxford Circus
PS: Do check out my Dim Sum in London guide for restaurants that are the real deal.