First Look: Ping Pong Dim Sum’s Bottomless East West Brunch

Bottomless Mimosas & Unlimited Dim Sum at Ping Pong’s New Brunch:

Ping Pong Dim Sum recently unveiled a new East West brunch menu, offering their own unique spin on classic, hearty brunch standbys, combining them with Chinese flavors and influences. As you know by now, I love a good bottomless brunch — don’t we all here in D.C.? — and this one had me really excited from the get-go, offering your choice of one new East West brunch entree, unlimited dim sum, and bottomless “deconstructed mimosas” for $36. I couldn’t wait to dive in and give it a try.

To start with, you get your own table side mimosa bar, with a bottle of champagne and a bowl of “popping pearls”. These are filled with various juices and you’re supposed to add them into your champagne and create a deconstructed mimosa. Great idea, and it looks fun and playful in the glass.

However, the pearls sit at the bottom of your champagne flute which means you don’t actually get to enjoy the juice with the champagne. Even after your glass is emptied, the pearls stick to the bottom. In order for this to work, the pearls would really need to float, so that you can take a sip and pop one in your mouth jointly. Alternatively, each person should receive a long toothpick — or spork or who knows what — so you could pop them once they’re in your glass.

As is, they just aren’t mimosas, because you’re not getting champagne and juice at the same time — they’re champagne with colored decorations you see but don’t taste. We ended up abandoning the pearls and ordering a side of lychee juice to make lychee mimosas, and those were fantastic.

All of the new East West brunch entrees sound delicious: Chicken & Green Tea Waffles; Five Spice Pork Belly Benedict; Egg & Cheese Breakfast Spring Rolls; Sichuan Hanger Steak Loco Moco; Shanghai Shrimp and Grits; and Mango Black Tea French Toast.

Unfortunately, as with the deconstructed mimosas, the entrees have an execution issue.  The concepts sound wonderful, but do they actually work in practice?

The chicken and waffles were each dried out, making them dense and hard to eat together, and taking away from the dish. The spring rolls were tasty, but were left so overly doused in grease that they were hard to enjoy. The French toast was so fried, that along with its hefty covering of powdered sugar, it tasted like carnival funnel cake.

The pork belly was the best of the entrees we tried, however it still didn’t look the part. That goes back to the execution of the dishes again. For instance, compare the stock photos of their Loco Moco and the Pork Belly Benedict, both of which were also photographed during our visit:

Advertised:

Reality:

Clearly, something was lost in translation from the design of those dishes to how they’re being pulled off in the restaurant when people order them. These dishes just weren’t prepared as intended. Unfortunately, I also had to send my Loco Moco — the first item which was ordered and brought to the table — back to the kitchen, as it was served cold.

At the end of the day, if Ping Pong was offering a bottomless mimosa brunch, with unlimited dim sum and dumplings for the same $36, no entree included, that’d still be a good deal. I’d pay for it. You’d leave stuffed, and you’d enjoy some of the best bites that Ping Pong is known for, with two dozen different dim sum to try along the way. Along these lines, the entrees could be thought of as almost a bonus add in of sorts.

Nevertheless, if you’re actually there to try one of the East West menu items first and foremost, then they bring the overall quality of the meal down. The new entrees from the East West menu and those fancy deconstructed mimosas are simply missing the mark for now.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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