Is the food as glamorous as the decor?
Back in November of 2021, I reviewed Kibele in Great Portland Street. Despite this meal being the one of the first ones after the lockdowns that a vendor treated my advertising agency’s programmatic team to, when I reviewed it, it was with little fanfare or mention of this.
The reasoning behind this is that I appreciate the pandemic was traumatic for many people, and that people lost loved ones, ended up with long covid etc, so I don’t want to start any articles with “the downside during the pandemic was that I didn’t get taken for any free lunches”. Another reason I do not wish to dwell on the pandemic is because I am also aware how scary the restrictions being stopped for people, especially those that are vulnerable.
But whenever I get the chance to sample the delights of wonderful London-based restaurants through my day job, I do like to try and be as thorough as possible when it comes to writing you all a review.
As Ping Pong, Shepherd’s Bush is technically part of Westfield Shopping Centre, I would imagine that when you read that, you form and image in your head akin to what some sort of “food court” or “staff canteen” would look like. One of the main things I am so keen to get across in this review is how nice Ping Pong is as a restaurant. Located along the “strip” of restaurants towards the back, Ping Pong has seats inside and outside, and due to the fact it was one of the first warm and sunny days of the year, we chose to sit outside.
As the name on their social handle suggests, Ping Pong specialise in Dim Sum. You’ll probably be looking at the featured image on this article, and wondering why this London restaurant review does not have any pictures of the actual food. I can think of a number imaginative stories to deliver to you about why this was, fanciful tales of leaving my iPhone in the office, or my phone’s camera being broken, both of which are situations that are very likely to happen to me.
But the cold, hard, truth is much easier to swallow than my usual menagerie of excuses.
I was simply too busy eating the food, to stop and photograph it.
Dim Sum is the term used for “appetiser”, but there are plenty of restaurants like Ping Pong that serve enough variety and big enough portions for you to be able to make up a full meal out of many different Dim Sum dishes. As we were dining in a large group this was the ordering strategy we opted for.
The first thing to come out was the duck bao we had ordered. The bao buns were lighter than air, and the duck was cooked to perfection, and came out with a hoisin sauce. I tend to find that things like duck (and Turkey also) can taste quite dry, but the duck was juicy and moist and not in the slightest bit dry, in fact, I tackled the “build your own bao” situation without one single, solitary addition of any sauce for moisture. The bao bun and shredded duck combo just simply did not require this.
After sampling these, it was time for the various Dim Sum dishes to come out and have their turn in the spotlight. The honey-glazed spare ribs, the broccoli and the smoked chilli chicken wings came out together and made a tasty first plate. The ribs were perfect – not overcooked or undercooked, and although you could easily taste the honey they were not sticky with it, and even I, a perpetual child, managed not to make a mess with them. Eating with a big group often calls for one or two people to test the heat of anything that is remotely advertised as spicy, so I happily volunteered to take this responsibility, and to my delight, I found out the chicken wings were fairly mild. One small detail I noticed about the chicken wings is that they had quite a lot of meat on them, something which can be hit or miss, depending on where you eat.
I don’t think I am the only person who’s mind goes straight to dumplings when they hear the word “Dim Sum”, and I have been to a lot of places that serve terrible dumplings. Over the course of my last seven years of working in the advertising industry, I have been served many a tasteless, slimy dumpling. But, as with the first few dishes I mentioned, the dumplings were little well-cooked wonders. Now a cashew nut isn’t the first thing I would think to pair with chicken and throw in a dumpling but oh my, the chicken and cashew ones were absolutely incredible. The wheat flour pastry was fluffy and the perfect balance between chilli and hoisin had been struck. We also had spicy chicken dumplings, which were a lot spicier than the chicken wings, and they were great, which I think was owing to the fact they manage to pack so many ingredients in the translucent pastry, it managed to level out the spice and create something with layers and layer of flavour.
Much in the same way that dumplings, gyoza conjure up the stereotypical idea I have of “Dim Sum” in my head. Ping Pong didn’t have a varied selection of gyoza, the beef ones that were available were not only just delicious, but also very light, which is a hard trait to achieve when cooking with beef.
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It felt wonderful to be out and about socialising over lunch again, especially as I have only just recently got over being severely anaemic, and it has been hard to enjoy things feeling that poorly. I’d highly recommend visiting Ping Pong, the food is great quality and the restaurant itself has a laid back vibe, even though the décor lends itself to the idea the restaurant is “fancy”. We didn’t feel out of place there in our office outfits, having a long and lingering meal without hassle, and being able to have conversations in the absence of loud music or other parties being too loud being seated near us.
Love to know your thoughts guys?