Restaurant: Ping Pong
Location: 900 7th Street NW. District of Columbia 20001. 202-506-3740
Date: Dec 01, 2010
I’ve been going to Dim Sum for thirty-odd years, and it’s long been one of my favorite cuisines. Basically, this follows from the “law of appetizers,” which reads: “appetizers are always better than the main course.” Dim Sum is all “appetizers.” Ping Pong represents a modernization of the traditional Dim Sum concept. There are no carts, everything is made fresh to order, and there are modern variants on traditional favorites. Most of this is good, and they did a great job. The only downside is that it’s about twice as expensive as a hole-in-the-wall traditional place. However, particularly if you have a vegetarian in the party (traditional Dim Sim is nigh on impossible to appreciate as a vegetarian), it can be worth it.
Jasmine tea, the way they do it in China. The ball expands.
Sauces are essential at Dim Sum. These are two kind of chilies. They had good soy, vinegar, etc. The odd missing one, which we asked for, but they didn’t have, was Chinese mustard. I love Chinese mustard.
Here is an example of a welcome “modernization.” A vegetable puff. Same dough, but inside was honey-roasted vegetables. These did a pretty good approximation.
Vegetarian spring rolls, with a very nice sweet and sour sauce.
Spare ribs. Ultra soft (and fatty), with a very nice sweet flavor.
The tower of steamers begin to arrive. I personally love the steamed dumplings best of all. In China I had a 64 course Tang Dynasty style Dim Sum meal that was one of the best meals of my life.
Crabmeat and prawn, what’s not to like. Also very hot! They are steamed after all.
Classic Pork Shu Mai. I made the mistake of getting greedy on these and could barely taste them as I seared off my tongue. What I did taste seemed good.
This is a bunch of seafood and vegetable cooked on a griddle. A sort of Chinese seafood sausage. They call it a seafood cake. My father and I ordered these at random from an entirely non-English speaking greasy griddle at a rooftop restaurant in Shaimen China. These were better.
The decor too is modernized as compared to your traditional place.
I was impressed with Ping Pong. On average the dishes were fresher than you get in the typical cart driven place, and the introduction of new flavors was very subtly but nicely done. I particularly appreciated having really well done vegetarian versions of classics. Bravo!