Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ping Pong Dim Sum

I was debating whether or not to put this post up.  You see, I met some old friends for lunch in London last weekend, arrived a little early so took my standard shots of the exterior.  Then the girls arrived, I got completely overexcited as I hadn't seen them for 18 months and I completely forgot about taking any more pictures.
Without photo's of the food, drink and arty interior shots I thought that there would be no point in putting this post up.  I know that I like to read posts that are photo heavy to help me visualise but then I reconsidered.  I didn't get any photos cos I was too busy having fun with the girls.  Surely that is what this blog is about?  Capturing my life and acting as a diary for years to come.

So I will stick what photo's I do have in and after that you will need to use your imagination!

Kate and Jo are my two oldest friends.  I've known Jo since I was 4 years old and Kate since I was 8 and latched onto her when she joined our primary school, demanding that she 'be my best friend' in the playground.  Poor girl hasn't managed to shake me off since!
Jo, Me, Kate
As a trio we were inseparable at school.  We went on holidays together, our families all knew each other and these two know far more about me than I think I am strictly speaking comfortable with.  We studied together, played together, got into trouble together and went through all the normal trials and tribulations of growing up together.   They have seen me at my best and at my absolute, rock bottom worst.  We've argued and fought and it has never affected our friendship.

At 16 Kate and I went to a different sixth form from Jo but we were all still friends.  University happened, we scattered in different directions but still caught up with each other, visited each others Uni's and made sure we spent time with each other in the holidays.  Kate and I even worked together at the same kids Summer Camp!
These days we live in different areas of the country.  Kate is in St Albans, Jo is in Keston and I'm in Canterbury.  We have different lives, different careers and two of us are married with the third engaged.  However stick us back in the same room as each other, no matter how much time has passed and you cannot get a word in edgeways.  These two are always going to be a hugely special part of my life - I'm not sure there is a single memory from my childhood which doesn't feature them in some way!
I'd not seen the girls for 18 months.  Life has a funny way of doing that sometimes.  We were supposed to catch up in January but snow meant that we didn't want to risk travelling to London and getting stranded as there was no guarantee the trains would be running.  Turns out that September was the next available date for all three of us!

We set the date (3 months in advance it has to be said) and chose the venue.  I can't get decent dim sum in Canterbury so requested we go somewhere that served it.  Kate works in Soho and recommended Ping Pong, so that was that!

Dim Sum is basically Chinese tapas - lots of small portions, some steamed, some griddled and some fried. 

I must say as Dim Sum goes this place was excellent and really good value for money.  We went a la carte and shared our orders and it came to a whopping £13 a head, with us leaving feeling really full.  I can highly recommend the fresh lemonade with passion fruit puree.  The puree comes in a shot glass and you tip it in yourself.  Kate didn't see the lemonade and was convinced that the shot glass represented my entire drink.
I have borrowed the food and drink photos from the blog (with her permission of course!) which is a great lifestyle blog about a Californian girl in London.  She ate an almost identical menu to us when she visited so I have pinched some of her shots to show you the food!  Thank you Allesandra - I am really grateful!  You should check out her blog, I highly recommend it and, from our chats together, she is also a lovely girl.

The menu took a bit of getting used to as you could order from one of the sets, the Sunday All You Could Eat Special (that was a lot of food which was a bit daunting for us) or go a la carte.  You selected what you wanted, ticked it off the paper menu and handed it to your waiter.  Less than 5 minutes later your dishes start to arrive and they keep on coming!  We had vegetable spring rolls with chilli dipping sauce and duck spring rolls with plum dipping sauce (duck were my favourite and the plum sauce it came with was beautifully sticky).  On Kate's recommendation, we ordered these crispy prawn balls with a soy and chilli dip (which are messy but full of flavour).  Grabbing them with your chop sticks is a challenge all on its own as they have a tendency to crumble as your apply pressure but the first mouthful is worth the perseverance
Image borrowed from
We had roast pork puffs (which I remember as being good but a little forgettable as I cannot for the life of me remember what they looked like or tasted like other than the fact they came in puff pastry) and a vegetable sticky rice that came wrapped in a lotus leaf and was opened to reveal a sweet and savory bundle of rice with piles of seasonal vegetables inside.  Ours came in triangles rather than the rectangles shown below - clearly the Ping Pong staff are aficionado's at the art of origami lotus leaf parcels!
We had also ordered chilli pork tenderloin served on a lettuce leaf and with a chilli dressing which was really tasty and spicy chicken and cashew nut dumplings (absolutely wonderful and my favourite dish of the afternoon) which came served in the steam box on top of the rice parcels.  I have to say, none of the chilli was to my mind hot in the slightest but I know that my tolerance is higher than a lot of people's so it's not really surprising.  I would have liked a little extra heat though!
I'm pretty sure that there was some more that I just can't remember.  All the food was delicious and the perfect set up to share and catch up with old friends.  We couldn't manage dessert as we were just too full.

Instead we settled up and headed around the corner to the nearest Starbucks.  The weather was still warm enough for us to sit outside and gossip, catching up with each others lives and dramas.  I'm so lucky to have two girls like these in my life, even if I don't get to see them all that often these days. 

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