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Gourmet Saturday : Ping Pong (BKC)

I am writing this a little ahead of Saturday in case anyone requires dining-out inspiration for this weekend.
We tried out Ping Pong at Bandra Kurla Complex a few weekends ago, when Mr Jules and I attended an interiors show at the temporary exhibition centre there (Mr Jules rather begrudgingly obviously). Buoyed up by the triumphant purchase of some lovely cutlery (by the people who supply Good Earth but at almost a third of the price!), we decided to celebrate by lunching on Dim Sum across the road at Ping Pong.  Well it is very hard to find decent cutlery in Mumbai you know!
Chic, if standard Ping Pong interior – reminiscent of Chinese Tea Houses.
Ping Pong is actually a Chinese restaurant franchise originating in the UK.  And just like other popular foreign eateries such as Le Pain de Quotidien, Yauatcha and Pizza Express, they have chosen corporate BKC as the best location to enter the Mumbai (nay, Indian) restaurant scene.  BKC is well suited to the modern chain – with its wide pavements, glassy buildings and suited workers.
Back home in the UK, Ping Pong was always a cheap, convenient place to go for lunch or after work with mates – where you could share simple, healthy dishes with a glass of wine and not worry about the bill. Here, the chain is almost elevated to the ‘luxury’ category – mostly because the prices are comparable with that of London. (Upon checking the prices, I found that most dishes to be only 25 – to 75 pence cheaper than their UK counterparts – but with service taxes and VAT that saving is negated). Bearing this in mind, I was keen to see if the place would come up to scratch.
Delicious Crispy Asparagus – cooked al-dente and to perfection (Rs 225)
Scrummy Crispy Prawn Balls (Rs 375)
With a glass of Sula Sauvignon Blanc (Rs 350), our Saturday lunch at Ping Pong did indeed make for an enjoyable diversion – it is definitely worth a detour if you are in the Bandra area.  The food was pretty well cooked with only a couple of criticisms: the steamed dumpling casings were perhaps a little overcooked and therefore a bit soggy; and the ‘braised pork belly in five spice sauce’ was not available. Never mess with me and my belly of pork…it is one of my favourite dishes and I was hugely disappointed not to have it! Oh, and I did find a small piece of packaging fibre in one of the dishes – but they gave us a free dessert to say sorry so I forgave them.

Honk-free zone outside
Saturday lunchtimes at Ping Pong are not busy – the place is filled with affluent office workers during the week and as yet, has not been ‘discovered’ by those ‘Ladies Wot Lunch’ (unlike, say Le Pain de Quotidien).  At 1pm the place was virtually empty, although quite a few Saturday workers from the surrounding office buildings (some very poshly suited) did start to drift in from around 1.30pm. Admittedly, we had only gone there ourselves because we had noticed it from the exhibition centre across the way.To add to the Zen feeling, the road outside the restaurant is honk-free and there is an uninterrupted view of the wasteland from the window-tables – it is actually a great place to get some peace and quiet at the weekend!

Here are some pics of what we consumed:
Choices are made by ticking off a checklist
Prawn crackers with chilli sauce (Rs 150)
One of two steamed dim sum we ordered – Scallops & Shitake dumplings (Rs 350)
To the rear – Spicy Pork steamed dumplings (Rs 350).  Both had three dumplings so tough if there is four of you!
Chicken Rice Pot – makes a nice, healthy filler for Rs 350
I actually found a fibre in my prawn ball – from packaging I think.  I pointed it out to the staff and they later gave us this dessert without us asking for one.  Nice touch I thought.  Molten chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream
The ceiling – wonder what it says?
Chef at work…stacks of dim sum baskets behind him
The glorious pavements of BKC.
Great afterwork enticement – 2-for-1 cocktails Monday to Friday 4-8pm and 11pm to close.
First International Financial Centre Bldg. 
Plot C-54 & C-55 G block, BKC, Bandra (East),
Mumbai – 400 051
tel: +91 22 67413333
Mon – Sun 12.00pm – 12.30am
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