Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Ping Pong, Dubai Mall

In a nutshell: Really friendly staff, great food but uncomfortable seats

Although I have been trying to get away from Far Eastern food since a large number of my blogs feature Oriental food, I couldn't resist a visit to Ping Pong since I'd been wanting to try it for ages. I had read that the restaurant is modelled on a traditional Chinese teahouse where dim sum are served to accompany the tea and from the menu on their website, it all looked delicious. The decor is the standard dark wood that most Chinese-style restaurants seem to go for but the seats were either benches or stools - no chairs. Sitting on a hard wooden block is not my idea of a comfort and after being there 1.5 hours my bottom had gone numb! Next time I go I'll have to take my own cushion - although my comment to them was that cushions on the seats would be a great improvement so maybe they'll have some by then. I should point out that there is outside seating looking out on the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa but we stayed inside.

The drinks menu is as extensive as the food menu but I had already heard about the 'flowering tea' which unfurls in your glass so I decided to give it a go - green tea wrapped around jasmine petals. A glass with what looked like a dried up butterfly cocoon was placed in front of me and hot water poured over it. Over the next 10 minutes the tea leaves slowly rehydrated and opened up to release the jasmine flowers trapped inside. A sort of 'grow your own flower' similar to those 'grow your own pet' toys. Sadly the taste was not the greatest, the only thing I could liken it to was grass (not that I've ever drunk grass tea) so I won't be ordering that next time.

The food is arranged in sections based on steamed, fried, baked, clay pot etc. We ordered a selection to cover all the different dim sum types. One thing to note is that the vast majority of the options were seafood based (mostly prawn and scallops) although there were some chicken items. We were told that each item (around Dhs 20 per plate) contained 3 dim sum so we ordered 6 dishes between 3 of us which turned out to not be quite enough and we then ordered an additional 4 items. The seaweed wrapped dishes were too 'fishy' for my taste, as was the seafood claypot, but all the other dim sum were fantastic, particularly the steamed buns which were incredibly soft with flavoursome vegetables or chicken inside. We ordered a smoked duck salad and the salad was similar to a pickled, mayonnaise-free coleslaw: red and white cabbage and carrotts - delicious.

Although all the food items were really tasty, dim sum is more of an afternoon snack since you need to order a lot of dishes to make you full for lunch. Despite the fact that each item is only about Dhs 20, that quickly adds up when you need to order at least 10 dishes for 3 of you to be sated. There are a selection of set menus (prices of Dhs 100 and upwards) which looked like a lot of food but my friend Dara ordered the Dumpling Fix menu and was still hungry at the end of it so had to order a couple more dishes. On a Friday you can have unlimited dim sum for Dhs 132 and although we were there on a Saturday, our dim sum plus drinks came to an average of Dhs 131 per person. Not extortionate but even after all that food we left feeling like we'd had a big snack as opposed to a meal.


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