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Ping Pong Dim Sum, Americanized Chinese English Dim Sum Chain in Capital One Arena and Formerly Dupont Circle - Closed


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My wife and I have been to one in London, and it's a pretty nice place. I would think along the lines of Wagamamas, but with dim sum instead of noodles. And without the communal, picnic-bench-type seating. Decent (and freshly made) small food in a modern decor. Definitely a good addition to DC.

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Looking at the photos, the characters "dim sum" are upside down. Is that on purpose or just there to match all the other chains sporting hideous signs in Chinese that looked like they were written by 8 year olds.

Or the contractor(s) who hung the characters aren't familiar with Mandarin :angry:
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Yes they are open now - went by today for lunch. Prices are mostly $4.50 - $6, a few slightly higher. Items are mostly either traditional dim sum dishes, some with slight variations and then a few more contemporary "asian-flavored" choices.

We ordered a few of the different dumplings, rolls and rice. Overall the flavors were pretty good, sauces were flavorful and decent preparation of the dough.

Really my take on this place is that it is definitely catering towards a "trendy" vibe. While I enjoyed the food, I don't think I would go back mainly due to the price. Essentially everything is double normal prices say at Good Fortune. I would also say the flavors/ingredients are tweaked more to a Western palate.

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I went this weekend as well and would describe Ping Pong as a bar that serves dim sum. It seems to be intended as a see and be seen place. Food really seemed less important than drink. The drink menu is equally as long as the food menu.

The food did not meet my expectations, even for a first weekend run. The buns all had wax paper at the bottom that was difficult to remove. The vegetable options were all better than those with meat. In fact the veggie sticky rice was so good we ordered the special rice with meat and shrimp, which was crass.

I'd not go back unless it was for drinks.

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The buns all had wax paper at the bottom that was difficult to remove.

Just wanted to comment that this occurs at Chinese dim sum places and restaurants as well - so this shouldn't be a deterring factor. I've had my share of spitting out pieces of paper growing up, but something needs to go in-between the buns and steamer so it doesn't stick....
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Just wanted to comment that this occurs at Chinese dim sum places and restaurants as well - so this shouldn't be a deterring factor. I've had my share of spitting out pieces of paper growing up, but something needs to go in-between the buns and steamer so it doesn't stick....

Cabbage leaves? Then again, maybe I say that because I'm the kind of guy that likes to eat the steamed bok choy you see in steamers...
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Many of the tables around us commented about the wax paper sticking to dim sum. It was odd because each basket had a circle of wax paper at the base which was in addition to the pieces that were stuck on the dim sum. I may not have eaten as much dim sum as others in my lifetime but I really do not recall the wax paper. To me, and I think the others with whom I was with, it indicated that the pieces had been overly steamed or poorly prepared in some manner so that the paper merged with the dim sum.

However, my main comment is that I think Ping Pong will be a great place to get a drink and have a light snack. The veggie dim sum were all really good, the meats I would not order again.

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It's fairly normal for the paper to stick to buns, particularly the breadier ones. I don't recall ever getting a barbecued pork steamed bun without it. And removing the paper does tend to tear the bottom of the bun open. Placing an additional layer of paper between each bun's paper base and the steamer is something I've never seen, though.

There are alternatives to the sticking paper. A better restaurant might use perforated parchment these days, which will perfectly release even sticky Cantonese delicacies like the one shown below. Also see my photos of xiaolongbao in the Toronto thread.

post-710-126080170663_thumb.jpg

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It's fairly normal for the paper to stick to buns, particularly the breadier ones. I don't recall ever getting a barbecued pork steamed bun without it. And removing the paper does tend to tear the bottom of the bun open. Placing an additional layer of paper between each bun's paper base and the steamer is something I've never seen, though.

There are alternatives to the sticking paper. A better restaurant might use perforated parchment these days, which will perfectly release even sticky Cantonese delicacies like the one shown below. Also see my photos of xiaolongbao in the Toronto thread.

You know, that is what is interesting... the issue might have been that the wax paper caused the buns to tear open, and the dim sum to break open, when removing the paper. That's why it seemed they weren't prepared appropriately. Also, the paper at the bottom of the steamer may well have been the perforated parchment.

I thought Ping Pong was supposed to be a "better restaurant." The quality of meat in the pork bun and the sticky rice makes me think otherwise. But it sure is a pretty restaurant and the drink menu is nice.

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My partner and I gave it a try last night before a movie and were relatively pleased. He, too, thought that the vegetables tended to be better than the meats, while I was only eating vegetarian fare. Props to the waitress who brought chili paste and chili oil to the table and mentioned, unbidden, that the oil had dried shrimp in it and thus wasn't vegetarian.

The vegetable steamed buns I ordered were delicious. The bamboo steamer had been lined with perforated parchment and the bun itself had paper on the bottom which was utterly painless to remove.

Our biggest complaint was probably with the backless seating. While it's fine for a quick bite to eat, it's really not the sort of thing that would make either of us want to linger over drinks -- odd, given how much they're pushing their wine, liquor, and tea menus.

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My partner and I gave it a try last night before a movie and were relatively pleased. He, too, thought that the vegetables tended to be better than the meats, while I was only eating vegetarian fare. Props to the waitress who brought chili paste and chili oil to the table and mentioned, unbidden, that the oil had dried shrimp in it and thus wasn't vegetarian.

The vegetable steamed buns I ordered were delicious. The bamboo steamer had been lined with perforated parchment and the bun itself had paper on the bottom which was utterly painless to remove.

Our biggest complaint was probably with the backless seating. While it's fine for a quick bite to eat, it's really not the sort of thing that would make either of us want to linger over drinks -- odd, given how much they're pushing their wine, liquor, and tea menus.

We were there last night too. It's a nice space, but I thought portions were tiny (even by dim sum standards). That speech about shrimp in the chili oil must be standard because we got it at the bar. Good thing, as SO has a seafood allergy. I didn't think anything was "can't wait to return" delicious. It would be fine for a quick snack, but after sharing 5 plates I was still hungry.

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DC has some pricey dim sum in comparison to NYC and Philly. A small order, such as shu mai, may run you $2.50 in DC whereas the same dish can be had for $1.75 in NYC and Philly. Ping Pong's shu mai costs $5. I haven't been there (nor am I likely to ever visit) but I don't get the sense that they give you twice as much food. My observation is that this isn't much different from PF Chang (i.e., overpriced westernized Chinese food).

Disclaimer: I'm a xenophobe when it comes to Chinese food. No need to rehash prior arguments.

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My observation is that this isn't much different from PF Chang (i.e., overpriced westernized Chinese food).

Funny, my partner made a very similar comment as we were walking from Ping Pong back to the movie theater...he's been jonesing to take a Chinese friend to PF Changs for ages, just to hear him bitch about inauthenticity. He thought Ping Pong would serve a similar purpose.

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Many of the tables around us commented about the wax paper sticking to dim sum.

It's fairly normal for the paper to stick to buns, particularly the breadier ones.

I had dessert last night at Ping Pong Dim Sum, and ordered the Valrhona Chocolate Buns ($5), two fluffy, rice-flour buns filled with a molten, dark-chocolate pureé, and served in a bamboo basket on paper. They are exactly as you might imagine, and there was nothing not to like about them.

There really is a high stickage factor between bun and paper, perhaps even more so than usual - I ended up picking up the buns with my chopsticks, and tearing off the paper with my left hand, while being met with a considerable amount of resistance - paper and bun having become one-and-the-same.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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There really is a high stickage factor between bun and paper, perhaps even more so than usual - I ended up picking up the buns with my chopsticks, and tearing off the paper with my left hand, while being met with a considerable amount of resistance - paper and bun having become one-and-the-same.

Please, dear god, for the sake of all that is decent and good and human, please let this be about food somehow...

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I didn't like the atmosphere here. It was too trendy and too sterile. Dim sum is suppose to be casual, family friendly, loud, and cheap. I can do without the loud part, I can let the price slide if the food was phenomenal, but dim sum has to be family friendly and casual. Overall, the taste of the dim sum was better than I expected for a chain. The only major problem was the lack of ultimate flavor enhancer, pork fat in their dumplings. The steamed rice parcels suffered from the same problem with dry tasting rice. Traditionally, the meat in steamed rice parcel is suppose to be a fatty cut like the pork belly, so as the parcel steams, the fat melts and gets absorbed into the rice along with the meat juice, resulting in moist and tender rice. I will stick with the dim sum in the suburbs. Something are always better made the traditional way.

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I have no dim sum biases, I have only had it a few times, so I was pretty happy with our experience there last night. The chairs sucked and it was quite loud, but it was a lot of fun if that is what you are looking for, which we were last night. We got there right at 5:00 and I can say that the bar was already pretty crowded, when we left at 7:30, it was packed, there seemed to be a wait for tables as well, so it seems like they are doing pretty good business.

Looking back at the menu online now, I am pretty sure that we ate our way through most of it minus any soups, salads or vegetables, who needs that stuff. I don't remember there being any duds, but I also don't remember any highlights, it was just generally solid across the board. Personally, I didn't care for the desserts, but the others at the table loved them. I also tended to like the dumplings and the rice parcels (not dry last night) the most, and didn't like the fried items as much.

We did have an issue with the paper on the bottom with our very first dish, we tried to rip the dumpling out and it fell apart. I pointed that out to the waiter, he said that he would take care of it and we didn't have that issue the rest of the night. Not sure if they oiled the bottom of the dumplings a bit or if we jut got lucky, but we had no issues with it.

Overall, I think that it is a good place, but in that area filled with great places, it will have to work hard to keep people coming.

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Funny, my partner made a very similar comment as we were walking from Ping Pong back to the movie theater...he's been jonesing to take a Chinese friend to PF Changs for ages, just to hear him bitch about inauthenticity.

Although my visit was over two weeks ago, I would rather spend money at PF Chang's than here. Ever. When I spend at least $24, I also expect to be fed well and not mediocrity bird feed. It was passable. Just not $5 for 3 har gow passable. Yeesh. It is a nice trendy place for folks to hang out in the Chinatown area, however, but when I can get that same trendiness at other places nearby, like PS 7's, well, I rather get more bang for the buck, plus a great drink.

Eta: Forgot to say that I tried to veto this place when a friend suggested going here, but was overruled by her and my other friend.

Edited by goodeats
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I am a fan of this place. First time having dim sum outside of California. Went with the wife and two kids (5 and 8). We all enjoyed the small plates, and it kept things interesting for the children and had them willing to try some stuff they might not have eaten otherwise. The steamed pork bbq buns are awesome!!! Will go back anytime in downtown with the kids.

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I've been several times in the past few months (wife's friends like the drinks and atmosphere) and would recommend managing your expectations. The food is edible but totally uninteresting. I would recommend the pork bun things, they are pleasing in a weird sweet-and-salty kind of way.

Ironically, I've found the dumplings to be my least favorite thing here.

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I've been several times in the past few months (wife's friends like the drinks and atmosphere) and would recommend managing your expectations. The food is edible but totally uninteresting. I would recommend the pork bun things, they are pleasing in a weird sweet-and-salty kind of way.

Ironically, I've found the dumplings to be my least favorite thing here.

I would agree completely - in general I love dumplings, either steamed or pan-seared. They were by far the best, and dipping sauces generally good. But nothing memorable and the waitress claimed that they had the best drinks in the city. Having just come from the Passenger where we had an amazing mezcal and raspberry granita and a white pepper infused gin drink, we agreed to disagree. As an antidote to the several chains around Verizon, this place is fine. But nothing amazing.

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I would agree completely - in general I love dumplings, either steamed or pan-seared. They were by far the best, and dipping sauces generally good. But nothing memorable and the waitress claimed that they had the best drinks in the city. Having just come from the Passenger where we had an amazing mezcal and raspberry granita and a white pepper infused gin drink, we agreed to disagree. As an antidote to the several chains around Verizon, this place is fine. But nothing amazing.

I'll second the char sui buns being solid - and not much else food-wise being compelling. That being said, 3 pretty small buns for $6 is pretty rough. They have a solid happy hour though that cuts them to $3 for the same order of 3, as well as several of their (not best in the city, but certainly above average) cocktails for $5. If I was paying $2 a pop for the buns and $10 for the cocktails I'd feel pretty jilted. An earl gray julep and an order of char sui for under $10 total is a pretty damn good deal for the PQ area.

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I see that Ping Pong Dim Sum is opening another location, at 1 Dupont Circle (the higher education building), and invites you to their grand opening party, $35 for unlimited dim sum, unlimited cocktails, and best of all unlimited fun! Have they taken over the space once occupied by James Hoban's Irish Restaurant and Bar, which appears to have been mentioned in this forum a grand total of once? Or is that place still there?

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I walked by there last week--it's definitely not the Hoban space. I wondered if I've just been that out of the loop that I didn't know there was a Ping Pong Dim Sum at this location. There were people inside and it looked open, so I just assumed it had been open for a while! :mellow:

(time to change the title)

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I see that Ping Pong Dim Sum is opening another location, at 1 Dupont Circle (the higher education building), and invites you to their grand opening party, $35 for unlimited dim sum, unlimited cocktails, and best of all unlimited fun! Have they taken over the space once occupied by James Hoban's Irish Restaurant and Bar, which appears to have been mentioned in this forum a grand total of once? Or is that place still there?

Just to mention James Hoban's again:

The food is entirely as you'd expect, passable but not great. I've eaten there before and didn't hate myself for it, but didn't expect great food to start with.

On the other hand, it's a decent place to get a pint and watch some footie, or to just get a pint with a group of friends (as it doesn't tend to be all that crowded, at least during the week, which is the only time I've been). They have the expected Irish beers (Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, Magners), as well as a small, but entirely decent selection of draft craft brew.

Bringing it back on topic:

Haven't made it to either of the Ping Pong's in DC, but so far they sound very similar to the Ping Pong I went to a couple of times in London: Passable, overpriced food. The only difference is that (at least to my knowledge, though I didn't go out of my way to look) there isn't a good alternative in London for dim sum. All the other dim sum places I tried were similarly priced and of similar quality.

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Tried the Ping Pong at Dupont Circle this weekend, and took advantage of their Restaurant Week menu.  It was certainly a substantial amount of food for $20.  8 pieces of dim sum, a small salad, a small plate (tapas size) and a mochi ice cream dessert.  I thought most of the dim sum were good; the honey roasted chicken puff, spring roll and spicy chicken dumpling were very good. They must have been out of one of the items on the RW menu because we received a beef dumpling instead of the advertised garlic shrimp dumpling. I don't eat beef, so I wish they had mentioned the substitution and given me a chance to ask for something else. But, given i couldn't eat it all anyway, that's a small quibble.

Cocktails are inventive and in the $12-$15 range.
I expected the restaurant to be crowded, and it was pretty empty at 1pm on Saturday.  There is a large bar area (no customers at that time) and a number of tables.  The only seats that have backs are along the banquet.  Sitting on a backless chair for any length of time doesn't seem very comfortable, I think this might be an issue for some people.  Overall, I thought it was a nice alternative to the usual fare, but this is not  a place for serious dim sum fans.  
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