My Chinese friends point-blank refuse to go to Ping Pong Dim Sum. They scoff at it, telling me that it’s not real dim sum.
But I have a solid reason to go now. The restaurants (there are two locations) just announced that brunch consists of unlimited dim sum and bottomless drinks for $40 per person ($25 per person, $15 per bottomless booze). A steal, and only $5 more than the famous Masa 14, Agora, El Centro bottomless bevies and endless bites brunches.
The more appealing thing Ping Pong has going for it, though, is that no one really knows about this deal just yet. Their two locations are relatively empty at brunch o’clock – filled with huge round tables just waiting to be filled with party brunchers looking for their next Sunday Funday haunt.
They used to offer the special with a limited brunch menu, but have recently opened it up so you can order off the entire menu (only a few exclusions; nothing you’ll miss). The only caveat is they boot you out after two hours (or so they say on the menu; I’m pretty sure we stayed for three or more).
The mimosa deal is both bottomless and a mimosa “bar,” meaning they drop off three types of mixers: mango, lychee, and something else, I forget the third – no orange needed here – and bottles and bottles of Wycliff champers. So, you mix your champagne cocktail how you like it, which is fantastic. Some of my Bitches took note that while the bottomless deal was the stuff day-drinking is made of, the sweetness of the maybe-less-than-high-quality champagne left them puckering and overfull before a truly epic drunk.
My non-mimosa drinking boys told me that the Bloody Mary had an odd taste to it – some kind of spice or herb that made it taste different. Not bad. Just … unexpected. Also, at eight-dollars-a-pop, the Bloody Mary drinkers felt a little ripped off when the bill came around. For just two dollars more, they could have had bottomless champagne!
It’s hard to dive into the specifics of a dim sum meal, because after a while the tiny pieces start to merge together and you stop caring about what sort of dumpling or fried roll is going in your mouth and you just start eating everything for the sole purpose of clearing tiny dishes to make room for more tiny dishes.
But, back to my Chinese friends. OK, fine, they won’t eat at Ping Pong. I get it … it’s not authentic. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It’s American-Chinese-Modern food. You don’t order off rolling carts and all the foods have convenient little descriptions of the what the food is. So, no, it’s not Chinese food. Accept that, and I think you’ll be happily popping dumpling after dumpling in your mouth.
There was so much dim sum I stopped taking photographs. We tried nearly everything on the menu, and with a pescatarian and a kosher-style Jew at the table, we focused heavily on the vegetarian and seafood dishes.
So, some of our highlights …
The spinach and mushroom dumplings. Lets be clear about one thing–these are Brooke’s two favorite foods. We tease her because when she sits down at a restaurant, she will end up with whatever has spinach and mushrooms. They didn’t disappoint. Neither did the spicy basil dumplings or the lobster dumplings.
We also loved, loved, loved the vegetable bun, which arrives in a delicious and tender white puffy bun. That, alongside the chicken puffs and the sticky rices, were amazingly good. We did, however, order our second and third rounds with our eyes rather than our stomachs, and these particular dishes were the culprits. Delicious, warm, and extremely filling.
Some of our less than favorites …
Duck spring rolls sounded good in concept, but they ended up being a little on the dry and stringy side. While we ordered more than one round of the steamed broccoli, I feel obligated to warn you– this is normal steamed broccoli, not the regular delicious Chinese broccoli you get at other dim sum places. It was good. But you can probably replicate this dish by, I don’t know, buying broccoli and steaming it for a few minutes.
We ventured into some of the salads, because really, how many dumplings can you eat? (It turns out the answer is: more than you think). The shrimp salad arrived covered entirely in whatever those white crispy things are. It was a bit overpowering, and we would recommend a pass.
Everything is served in the wooden dim sum steam baskets, which they stacked one on top of the other. Thankfully they also place little stickers on the side that tell you what’s what, because when you have 20+ dishes on the table it gets confusing.
And then there was dessert. Which, at that point, was laughable. We were already so ridiculously stuffed from the sheer quantity of dim sum bites and sugary sweet cocktails that we could barely order a twelve round. But, we did. Because it’s part of the deal.
We got the chocolate fudge bar. And some sort of chocolate round cake. And the chocolate spring rolls with caramel dipping sauce, which just tasted backwards to me. Should be caramel rolls with chocolate dipping sauce, duh.
The chocolate buns? Heaven on earth. The end.
The Bitches say: A. I don’t care if it’s not authentic. Ping Pong’s dim sum is good food and it’s bottomless booze for a decent price. Do it.
Ping Pong Dim Sum
900 7th Street N.W.
1 Dupont Circle N.W.