The restaurant – like all of the Ping Pong chain are dark with black wall paper, ebony tables and black leather benches. This place was smaller than the one we previously visited in Southbank. As you walk through the entrance there is the front kitchen with the chefs preparing dim sum in front of you. On the other side is a small waterfall and river running through the entrance guiding guests into the sitting area.
We were seated by a polite Chinese waiter who took our order of hibiscus mojito and the set menu. The drinks were watery and very flowery in taste – refreshing and although weak were not full of fake sugary purees. We were impressed.
The set menu consisted of chicken wonton soup, duck spring roll and potato cakes, roast pork dim sum, king prawns and scallops with sticky rice and char sui bun, vegetable dumplings, chicken shu mai and seafood dumplings. Now this all sounds like a lot but these were served in small bamboo pots and are small themselves.
Firstly the soup came out, this was salty and full of flavour, and we would have liked more of this but expected a heavy number of additional courses (which never really came) so we were satisfied. The duck spring rolls and potato cake were then served and again were very small and the potato cake was heavy and lacked any flavour. The duck roll was tasty and crisp by lacked any real thought which was reflected in the presentation.
Then out came the pork dim sum and prawn/scallop sticky rice. The dim sum was slippery and had too thick a pastry over powering the pork meat taste. The seafood itself was bland in every way however we did like the sticky rice that came out piping hot and really was sticky and delicious.
The waitress did not take the time to explain what the dishes consisted of. She rattled off their names far too quickly so we were quite at a loss at what the fillings were from the start.
The vegetable dumplings, chicken shu mai and seafood dumplings came out moments later in their bamboo boxes, which when opened, filled the area wih piping hot steam which was pleasing. Our empty boxes were taken away and we ordered another delicious cocktail. Following on the same theme the dumplings lacked taste and we found it hard to decipher the different fillings had it not been for the different coloured meat and even then most of the red meats liked anemic. Again the portion size and amount were small so we felt a little hungry as we finished up.
As the waitress was so unhelpful we were unsure if we had finished off all of the dishes in the set menu and were a little afraid to ask as she was so cold. As a result we sat there a while until we felt safe to ask the waitress if we could have the dessert menu – not the best service I have to say. As we were still a little hungry we ordered sorbets and iced berries. The sorbet flavours lacked any zing but the frozen berries were delicious; frozen with the chocolate sauce dribbled over them – at least the end of the meal was less disappointing.
If (and that is a big if) we visit again we would seriously consider having the cheaper vegetarian menu as the texture, taste and heartiness of the meat was completely lost in these simple dishes. There was a lack of customer service, which was reflected in the waiters, the presentation and the ingredient quality. The focus seemed to be on making every dish easy to duplicate; a typical chain restaurant.
Our expectations were not high as we knew of its reputation and had been before, having said that we did come with open minds. Unfortunately this place lived up to our expectations; a chain that focuses on the number of bums on seats over tasty menu options and customer service. Do not get me wrong the food is not bad but just uninspiring. The service is pretty poor and although you are not often left waiting long you feel as though this is more to get you out of the door and the next group in rather than a real care of service levels.
As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:
Food Atmosphere Service