Ping Pong – South Bank

Reviewed on February 11th, 2011 by Dina

Just before the Christmas holidays, we were lucky enough to be taken out for dinner by our friends from Digital Tribe. It was a fantastic evening at Ping Pong filled with amazing food, good company and a great atmosphere!

Ping Pong is a funky dim sum restaurant and feels quite unique. It’s atmosphere is helped by the DJ style music playing in the background.

Our evening started off with some cocktails! There was a huge range of drinks including cocktails, wine, juices and teas. The flowering teas are very pretty to the eye and also taste good to the palate!

The pineapple, coconut and lime non-alcoholic cocktail is a favourite of mine! It’s served in a tall glass and is a really moreish drink! I could easily have had a couple of these throughout the meal but it is a filling drink!

We couldn’t decide on which dim sum dishes to have as there was so much choice. So to make things that little bit easier, a couple of us (not including myself!) took the executive decision to order the Extravaganza and the Vegetarian Extravaganza Set Menus.

To start the Extravaganza, the nibbles were spicy nuts and seaweed crackers. They were nice to have as an accompaniment to the meal. For the rest of the main meal, I only had items from the Vegetarian menu.

The dim sum included a selection of steamed, fried and baked items. The baked hoi sin vegetable puffs were really nice with the sweet taste of the glazed honey coming through. The baskets of steamed vegetable dumplings were made up of crunchy golden dumplings, spinach and mushroom dumplings and spicy hot dumplings. All were great and it was difficult to have a favourite. But if I did have to choose one, then it would have to be the spinach and mushroom dumplings.

Two different types of spring rolls came as part of our meal. One was filled with vegetable and tofu and the other had mixed vegetables. Both were equally nice and crispy.

There were two dishes that were quite different and that I wasn’t expecting! The vegetables and beans in a black bean sauce was the dish of the coconut rice clay pot! I really enjoyed this combination of vegetables and beans together with the rice. The five spice Chinese mushrooms and black fungus were presented in a steam basket! The mushrooms were really juicy.

To go with our huge Extravaganza, we had lots of different dipping sauces! These included five spice chestnut, spicy mango, sweet and sour, and hoi sin.

If that wasn’t enough food, we still had the dessert part of the Set menu to come! The mango pudding with mango puree had the right sweetness and texture too.

For chocolate fans, there was the chilli and chocolate mousse. This rich mousse had a real kick to it and the chilli was just that little bit too strong for me. Another chocolate based dessert was the fluffy white bun. This had a filling of Valrhona chocolate and came with coconut puree. The bun was really soft with the melted chocolate inside. It was a lot lighter than the mousse!

The pudding that looked the most intriguing was the black and white rice with mango puree. The rice was split into two layers with the puree on the side. I was surprised that I actually liked the taste of the rice as a dessert item!

Ping Pong gave us very fast and efficient service. The dishes were brought out all throughout the meal. The staff were friendly and very attentive. It was nice that they pointed out which dishes were pure vegetarian including the desserts.

Ping Pong has a great variety of food and drink! There are lots of different dishes and flavours and it has something to suit everyone’s tastebuds! They always seem to be updating their menu with new items. One thing to note is that Ping Pong only take reservations for groups of eight or more!

Ping Pong, Festival Terrace, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

Rating: ★★★★★

Ping Pong South Bank on Urbanspoon
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Gourmet Pizza Company – South Bank

Reviewed on April 13th, 2010 by Dina

Gourmet Pizza Company looks like a beach hut and it may not be exactly next to a beach, but it has the River Thames on its side! The actual location is in Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank.

Seen as it is a pizza restaurant, it seemed wrong to order anything else other than pizza. The menu does have pastas and salads as well.

There were two pizzas that were especially appealing. One was the grilled vegetable and caramelised onion which had toppings of aubergine, courgettes, peppers, onions, mozzarella and goat’s cheese. I decided on the other pizza though which was generously topped with tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, courgettes, olives, mushrooms, garlic and mozzarella.

 

The pizza base was perfect. It was crispy and still had substance to it as it wasn’t paper thin. The garlic with the tomato sauce made the flavour of the pizza really great.

Gourmet Pizza Company do a range of hot drinks including coffees and teas. The Earl Grey tea was served in a tall latte glass but I always prefer having tea served in a teapot. The fresh mint tea was also served in the latte glass. It was good that the mint tea was not made from a teabag but from fresh mint leaves.

This restaurant has an open kitchen with the dining area surrounding the kitchen. The decor is all wooden tables and chairs and there is also outdoor seating facing the river.

The staff were really friendly and very welcoming. They gave service with a smile and were not pushy in any sort of a way. It made the whole atmosphere relaxing and comfortable.

If you’re ever around Gabriel’s Wharf, then Gourmet Pizza Company is a lovely place to go for lunch or dinner. It would be great in the summer months too!

Gourmet Pizza Company, Gabriel’s Wharf, 56 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PP

Rating: ★★★★☆

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BFI Benugo Bar and Kitchen – South Bank

Reviewed on April 17th, 2009 by Dina

We went to this BFI cafe as our regular favourite BFI Riverfront cafe was closed on this particular morning. The decor looked very similar to Tibits on Regent Street:

http://ratemybistro.co.uk/tibits-regent-street/

Seen as Benugo Bar and Kitchen has been open for a lot longer, Tibits’ decor may have been inspired from this BFI cafe! Benugo is great as most of its seating is comfy sofas. This makes it an easy place to spend many hours! The area around the side of the bar is slightly dark and does not have much daylight.

As for drinks, I was happy that they served soya milk! The hot chocolate was quite rich and satisfying. The latte was also of a high quality. If you prefer the combination of coffee and chocolate, then definitely go for the mocha.

It was a good thing that we asked for our drinks to be served in take away cups instead of the normal mugs. The reason why I say this is because as we were being served, one of the customers came to the counter and asked for his drink to be changed because his supposedly clean mug had a lipstick mark on it.

BFI Benugo interior1BFI Benugo Bar and KitchenBFI Benugo interior2

The service was ok up to the point when it got to around lunchtime. We were then approached by one of the staff to ask if we were going to be ordering another drink. Bearing in mind that we had already had a couple of drinks each by then, we told her that we were not. She then said that it was getting to lunchtime service and we could not really just sit in the cafe area. The waitress cleared away our evidence of all the drinks that we had had, so it looked like we were just sitting there. We could slightly understand if the place was really busy but there were plenty of seats still available.

Benugo Bar and Kitchen has free Wi-Fi. This place does get very busy in the evenings as it is next door to the National Theatre and has a late closing.

BFI Benugo Bar & Kitchen, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XT

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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