Game for some Ping Pong?
Global restaurant chain, Ping Pong, opened its shutters to Mumbai gourmands recently. Kanika Sharma sampled, savoured and suspected wonders behind this steamy kitchen
In a remote, expansive corner of the Bandra Kurla Complex, we decided to play the game with a restaurant that loves steam and dimsums. After scouring the rectangular maze of the complex, we wondered how a popular eating joint, known for its vibe in London and Washington DC, could be tucked under one of the towering skyscrapers in ‘the office zone’. Still, the electric blue-coffee brown combination had its effect. The place buzzed with the energy of chatting diners on a Saturday afternoon; every table was occupied. The bar behind concocted glistening cocktails whetted our appetite for more.
The marriage of authentic Chinese culture with contemporary angles was well-reflected in the interiors. Seated at low, spacious tables, we noticed that the open kitchen had the exterior of antiquated folding screens, a common feature in China. The dynamic energy of the place and its relaxed vibe made us order its signature Ping Pong (R350) and a Strawberries and Passion Fruit (R400).
The menu is divided into Nibbles and Sauces, Fried and Griddled, Baked, Rice and Noodle Dishes, and lots more. A gesture that we recommend to the city’s fine dining joints was a separate paper with the menu and a pencil for us to select food along with stating exactly what is it we are there for. In case of a drinking soiree or a quick lunch for business or pleasure can be discreetly conveyed to the attendant while celebrations can also be covertly arranged, especially in a schema of surprise.
We happily ticked Prawn Crackers with Chilli Sauce (R150), Fried and Griddled Fish and Black Pepper Dumpling with Hoi Sin Sauce (R350), a Chicken Rice Pot (R350), a Lemon Chicken from the Special Dishes’ section (R300), Steamed Coriander and Prawns Dumpling (R325) and a Molten Cake (R220).
Our cocktails arrived looking tempting with intriguing fibroid-like content floating in our drink. Our company didn’t prefer ice and had requested so, but the drink on its return hardly met expectations. The Ping Pong comprised martini bianco, white wine and lychee juice served with Asian basil seeds.
Refreshingly tangy, our drink was smooth and fun with the seeds teasing our tongue. On the other hand, strawberries, limes, passion fruit juice, cabritio reposado tequila, topped with a sprinkling of Asian basil seeds shaken together were acerbic, so much so, that they were unpalatable and untouched during the course of the meal.
The Prawn Crackers tasted yum with a drink and complemented well with the Chilli Sauce that contained tinges of the Hoi Sin. The first to arrive were the Fish dumplings that were well-seasoned and juicy — as were the Prawn Dumplings cooked perfectly with the subtle flavours.
The Chicken Rice Pot looked measly but soupy with a steamy whiff and was seasoned with broccoli, edamame beans — our favourite at this food orgy. As soon as Lemon Chicken was placed in front of us, aghast, we enquired if it were the main course. The gravies are amiss from the menu, we were told.
Sampling three chunks of chicken that were flavoured well but slightly dry at the core began to make us uneasy. Anticipating rice fit for one, Chicken Noodle Pot (R350) was called for, which with its timely appearance and sampling managed to further dampen our spirits. By then, our attendant distractedly brought our dessert — after requests — that tasted perfect. With an unexpected gastronomic ride in the course of two hours, we wondered if celebrated food critic Matt Preston’s dessert adage of happy endings were true!
At Ping Pong, First International Finance Centre, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex.
Ping Pong didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.