Ping Pong Covent Garden - London Restaurant Review

Published . By Katie Kirwan.

With a menu of steamed mushroom buns and seafood dumplings, Ping Pong Covent Garden was a restaurant that could serve all I wanted and dim sum; but were the parcels truly palatable, and can a restaurant that benefits from such a large space deliver the cosy and intimate dining feel that a dish like dim sum deserves?

The Venue

The newest location for Ping Pong and potentially one of the largest, Covent Garden's labyrinth of roads and alleyways reflect this labyrinth of a restaurant just right. While our first steps landed us straight into the bar and past a myriad of dining tables in a sunken restaurant area, Ping Pong harbours more than just dim sum secrets as a set of dimly lit steps led us to a more intimate dining experience below. While it's clear to see that Ping Pong Covent Garden tries to reflect the Chinese restaurants of old with bamboo steamers and a myriad of artistic nods to the streets and culture, the materials and structure of Ping Pong evidently build for a modern and contemporary restaurant that nods back rather than clings. 

ping pong covent garden london restaurant review

The interiors are both modern, and instrinsic to Eastern styles.

The Food and Drink

While i'm used to smaller, more concise dim sum menus, it's clear to see that the selection at Ping Pong is geared toward sharing, and pairing their ingredients with a myriad of different dining options. Pushing past the confusion at first, our waiter helped us through a 'checklist' ordering system as we plotted down our order with pen and pencil.  

As mentioned, this is a sharing experience and dishes come out both sporadically or all at once, meaning that loose elbows need behave themselves across the table. Pairing between us a selection of warm starters and dim sum, we collated a table of entangled crispy prawn balls with shredded pastry (£5.05), crab and prawn dumplings with a hint of ginger (£4.30), spicy vegetable dumpling and mixed vegetable spring rolls. Not only were the translucent skins of the dim sum a clear draw and their options concise and well described, their seafood-orientated dumplings have clear seasoning and interiors that are both firm and fair alongside the luminescent pastry. Star of the dining show? The plump mushroom buns at £3.55 which pillowed with shiitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms and cashew to give an all encompassing, nutty flavour. My only qualm with the majority of orders? Nothing comes on an even keel, meaning that dishes came with 3 portions instead of four, making splitting plates an only-almost fight to the death.  

On the drinks end, Ping Pong clearly gear their menu towards Eastern flavours as the menu flits between the likes of a Nashi Negroni, Hong Kong Colada and Ginseng Manhattan. As someone who has trialed plenty of Asian cocktails, their passion for lychee and kumquat geared drinks stand in good stead alongside savoury dishes. 

ping pong review london dim sum

Plump, pert and stuffed with flavour, our favourite of the night was the mushroom bun dish. 

The Atmosphere

Restaurants in the heart of the city often belong to a world of bustle, and Ping Pong clearly benefits from that foot-fall. While the upstairs space was loud and stirring with those who had trickled in from the streets, the basement space we were eating in felt more reserved for those who had done just that, reserved. There were a lot of groups of suits clearly winding down after the day, but plenty of couples and groups of friends thrown into the mix to the boot. Don't worry about 'dressing up' either, this is a clearly casual chain, and I left with a face full of glitter and not a notice in sight.

ping pong dim sum review london

Cocktails at Ping Pong in Covent Garden trail with tales and flavours of the East. 

Summary

I never thought I had a favourite type of food until I got familiar with dim sum, and I never knew so many chain restaurants were willing to jump on that bandwagon until now. Not only offering more than a varied selection of steamed and fried fare, Ping Pong is clearly a busy restaurant that's not only trying something different in their ordering department, their menu is enticing enough that even the biggest of group tables seem stacked with steamers.