A mere stone’s throw from Wembley Arena – in the newly developed designer village at Wembley Park, is the newest addition to London’s favourite dim sum franchise; Ping Pong. (It’s so new in fact, that Google Maps doesn’t know where it is. Which proved to be a problem for me, until I opened my eyes and saw the enormous sign pointing me in the right direction. I’m also told that the first customers of this store were none other than, oh… what’s their name? Oh yeah, One Direction. So, there’s that.) We were invited to sample their exclusive Chinese New Year menu – including seasonal dishes and delicious cocktails, and who were we to refuse? We headed along on a dreary Wednesday night, our bellies grumbling with anticipation, and boy oh boy, did we dine.
With the cocktail menu boasting such exotic offerings as Kumquat Mojito, Ginseng Passion and Something Served in a Beaker with a Jasmine Rose and Fancy Straw, we carefully made our first selections. One came served with a suspiciously small amount of Anything Other Than Alcohol, while the other came Drowned in Crushed Ice and Thai Basil Seeds. Regardless of their contents, they tasted AM-ASIAN (get it?), and after the first round, we deduced that there would certainly be another (or two).
With pencil in hand we pored over the New Year specials and the regular old house menu, and assessed our dim sum options. We were advised that five dishes each would usually suffice, and we chose a few snacky type bits to start too; the tempura seaweed crackers and some sea salt and celery edamame, followed quickly with a serve of the deliiicious duck spring rolls (with hoi sin sauce!) and the infamous Crispy Prawn Balls (trademark, patent pending).
We were running out of room on our table for two by the time the next course was served, and were kindly offered the use of a nearby table to hold the never-ending flow of steamed, griddled and banana-wrapped Parcels of Goodness as they arrived from the kitchen. Next to arrive was the king prawn and scallop sticky rice parcels, char cui buns (OMG nom), prawn and chive dumplings and the chicken and cashew nut dumplings. What you need to know is that in every serving there were either three of four pieces; between the two of us we’d just consumed just under twenty five pieces of dim sum. I mean, I don’t want to brag, but… that’s a lot of food.
We sat back, stuffed, admiring the damage we’d done in such a short space of time. The staff were super attentive and friendly, and – bless them, a bit deranged to ask us after all that if we’d like to order dessert. Another cocktail, yes, but more food? Absolutely not. We still had many a zone between us and the opportunity to lay horizontal, and after all that food, it was all I wanted.
While we digested enough food to feed – well, two or maybe three people, we chatted to the staff about their new menu, the thought process behind their inventive cocktails, and just exactly how good St. Germain Elderflower liqueur actually is (answer: very). We were more than looked after by the amazing staff over there in the new venue, and I can hand-on-heart declare that if Wembley wasn’t so damn far away from my little flat in SE London, that I would easily become a regular. Saying that though, should I ever have the displeasure of being forced to that stadium for anything other than a One Direction concert, I will certainly be holing myself up in there first. Or after. Or, both…
By Erica, at www.imbeingerica.com, with images provided by Erica and Rebekah Jays (Erica’s dim sum date).