Ping Pong Southbank

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

  • Ping Pong, Southbank, London
  • Ping Pong, Southbank, London

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SquareMeal Review of Ping Pong Southbank

The Ping Pong concept was always a good one. Take the centuries-old Chinese tradition of ‘yum cha’ – tea & dumplings – then add funky cocktails to the mix. A stroke of genius that had punters queuing out the door from the get-go. These days, however, the reality isn’t quite as impressive as the concept. Inconsistent service & food remains a bugbear, particularly when bills are ‘hefty’ (for dim sum, at least). On a good day (or, more likely, night) when the atmosphere is buzzing, it’s still a lively experience – especially when you factor in budget cocktails (from £5.95). Roast pork puffs, duck spring rolls & chive dumplings are reliable picks from the menu, & there are seasonal specials too, such as ‘luxury’ spring rolls with truffle oil.

Special offers

Festive indulgence £34.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

Seasonal feast £24.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

Merry treats £19.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

London Restaurant Festival 2017 - 7 dishes & a glass of wine £20 per person

From: 02 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 10

Baos and Bubbles for two, just £18.50

From: 18 July 2017

To: 05 September 2050

Max: 0

Theatre menu - 2 courses & soft drink £12, 3 courses & soft drink £15 per person

From: 15 February 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 8

Lazy Sumdays - Unlimited Dim Sum £24.95 per person, £11.95 for under 12s

From: 06 October 2016

To: 31 December 2017

Max: 9

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5.5

Food & Drink: 6.2

Service: 6.1

Atmosphere: 7.0

Value: 6.0

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Charlotte H. bronze reviewer 22 December 2016

I booked Ping Pong for my birthday with friends. We had one of the larger tables upstairs which is a bit more private and has a lovely atmosphere. The waitress said happy birthday which was sweet and they had put Christmas crackers on our table which was a nice touch. The food in Ping Pong is why I return again and again, it's fresh, tasty and there's so much choice. 5 out of 7 of us had never been and at the end of the meal they all said how much they loved it and how great it was! The food was delicious, we always do a mix of rice, fried, specials, baked and dumplings. My favourites are the spring rolls and the Char Sui Buns - fluffy clouds of loveliness! The cocktails are lovely and a fair price for London (my mojito was £7.55). The food is also very reasonable, we had plenty of food and divided between 7 with tip came to £13! Our waitress was very friendly and attentive. The food comes at different times but it's never long between the first arrival and the last. They also cater very well to vegetarians and they ask beforehand if there's any food allergies. Overall I had a wonderful meal with friends and really enjoyed my birthday - Thank you Ping Pong!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Nina K. silver reviewer 07 November 2016

A perfect place to meet a group of friends for a tasty and interactive dinner! The variety on the menu is wonderful and can cater for a variety of tastes and fussiness. Although we all ordered 4 items each and there was a table laden with steaming baskets and crispy bundles, we actually got through almost everything. Our waitress was very helpful and friendly. The steamed spicy chicken dumplings are still my favourite, although there are so many other wonderful things on the menu it is always tough to decide! A wonderful restaurant that will fill any dim sum gap!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Amrita D. bronze reviewer 12 June 2013

Ping Pong doesn't seem as bad as the online reviews suggested. If you expect your chinese to come from a hole in the wall in Chinatown, then Ping Pong is not for you. I quite enjoyed my dining experience at Ping Pong Southbank. The concept of Ping Pong is like a chinese tapas bar, where you are served dim sum instead of tapas, and they promote sharing. Of course, you can choose not to eat dim sum and order a plate full of noodles and eat it all by yourself! Their cocktails, and coolers for the non-alcoholic are refreshing, We had Lemon and Lychee, Black and Pink and Vanilla and Chilli. We chose the set menus as these are quite well planned and saves you from picking out ten different things from the menu. I wouldn't say that the food was an out of the world experience, but I would go there again. Sharing evokes lively conversation and Ping Pong has the right atmosphere for it.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Death by Dining 17 December 2012

First things first, this restaurant is a chain, and with that comes a certain amount of ‘generic’ dining style. I firmly oppose comparing Ping Pong to say, a little home owned dim sum hideaway in China Town. What you do get however is consistency, and for some that counts for alot. What Ping Pong does offer however, is quality fresh food, very helpful staff and a great atmosphere. Some might be put off by the ‘group dining’ scenario. Sharing an always too small table with random strangers (Though this has provided some of my most amusing ‘Overheard in Ping Pong’ anecdotes). As a vegetarian (yes, sorry) the set veggie meal is fantastic at £9.95 – more than enough food and a great selection. My carnivorous other half cannot get enough of the Roast Pork puffs and generally orders 2 portions. The drinks are reasonably priced, with near permanent deals and offers. The staff are exceptionally polite and helpful. The decor chic and the upstairs bar very pleasant to spend 15 minutes while you wait for a table (Note: you will ALWAYS have to wait – they don't take bookings) The only complaints I have are that I hate queueing and yes, Ping Pong is slightly impersonal, however for a quick informal bite near southbank, there's not much around that beats it. (And trust me, I've tried everywhere!) Overall I really like Ping Pong, you won't find me in chinatown battling the tourists – I have neither the time or the patience! Tip: You MUST try the flowering Jasmine tea – absolutely stunning – I even bought some to take home.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 1.0

mamma niamh silver reviewer 31 July 2012

I am disappointed, I was hoping for so much more… I love dimsum and always stop into one of the bakeries in Chinatown for a charsui pork bun on the way to the theatre to prevent my tummy rumbling before the interval. Ping pong just didnt deliver – apart from the staff – who were great, friendly, efficient This is a busy restaurant and on a blamy summers evening when the SOuth Bank is alive and buzzing in a pre-olympic throb The food was very diasppointing and it added up to an expensive meal they clearlykeep the drinks prices down to lure you in and then you order more and more unsatisfying dishes I feel sorry for whomever has to do all the washing up!

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Adrienne G. 23 July 2012

We ate at Ping Pong last night and found it to be one of the worst dining experiences I have had. The food was tasteless – many consisting of flour and water paste – cooked in different ways with very little filling. Definatelly a PLACE TO AVOID

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Sybaricious bronze reviewer 27 April 2012

Dear Ping Pong, Sit down for a minute, we need to talk. As I walked from Waterloo station to the South Bank last night I had one of those happy, glowy “I love being a Londoner” moments. Hustle and bustle all around me, Evening Standard under my arm and a sense of purpose in the air. Soft as it sounds I couldn't remember the last time I felt happier with my lot. I even felt momentarily excited about the Olympics. Then I walked into your South Bank branch. Oh Ping Pong! We were so good together, why did you have to change? Why did you remove all the good things from the menu like the dark coloured prawn and garlic dumplings that actually had some FLAVOUR? I mourn the passing of the wonderful five spice pork crackling which was so amazing and addictive that a friend actually once posted me a portion as a present to my office?! Why has traditional recipe pork and prawn sui mai become the rather drier and crumbly chicken sui mai? Why have the number of meat-based dim sums diminished exponentially in the last 18 months leaving us with a majority of a) fairly bland prawn, b) fairly bland crab or c) fairly bland prawn and crab? Why did you employ a supercilious, sarcastic, smarmy excuse for a manager/maitre d' when the old one was so lovely? When did you start to think that it is acceptable to charge £6.95 for 4 tiny rather dry ribs drizzled with watered down honey liquid? I used to think that every pretty little morsel that I popped into my mouth was a bite of deliciousness but last night found myself thinking “well that was £1.80 per mouthful”, was it worth it? And the answer, dear Ping Pong, was a resounding NO. Don't misinterpret me, I don't hate you, I'm not cross, I'm just disappointed in you and doesn't that always feel so much worse? Why do you serve weird baby poo coloured liquid described as “lemon and tamarind dip” with your prawn crackers, the flavour of which more closely ressembles Flash floor cleaner than any known foodstuff? Why has the kitchen service become so erratic that recently the springy gelatinous dumpling casing has melted into a puddle away from its filling like the aftermath of a hydrogen bomb whilst simultaneously welding itself to the bottom of the bamboo steaming basket making removal of the dim sum in one piece an effort worthy of Krypton Factor status? What did I do to you to deserve such treatment, I just don't understand? Why did you change the sauce on your satay squid by replacing a glorious, thick, peanutty gloop with thin and runny gunk at the bottom of the plate tasting vaguely of something a peanut once nodded at? Why have a special section on your order form asking me what time I want to be out of the restaurant only to serve the bulk of my order two minutes before you know that I need to be gone (having been there an hour)? I love the idea of you but I'm just not IN love with you. Why on my penultimate visit did the people sat next to me who arrived at the same time get 10 dishes within 10 minutes and I was waiting for many of the same dishes for over 30 minutes? You said that you were sorry and that you didn't mean it but it hurt nonetheless. A lot of my blogging friends told me you were bad for me and that I could do better but I didn't listen, I was taken in by your charms. I used to love you, like REALLY love you. Ok, so you have never been a Yauatcha or a Hakkasan but that has never been your market. You used to offer reasonably priced, tasty dim sum served quickly along with a nice cocktail or two. But no more, your star that shone so brightly for me has ascended and crashed, burnt out. But the important thing is the food used to be reminiscent of proper dim sum albeit of a more fast food quality than the big players. Now it has gradually morphed into just a bastardisation of something vaguely oriental with the addition of Har Gau and Shu Mai to keep it moderately “authentic”. This isn't the sort of dim sum that anyone on the back streets of downtown Kowloon would recognise and it is deluding and defrauding anyone who sees this is a real dim sum experience. I think maybe we should start seeing other people. When you started out you were a novelty both in terms of dim sum and fast food. At the time London was comparatively bereft of cost effective quick options outside of the MacDonalds/ Starbucks/Pret model and you rode into town like a knight in shining armour. Now, however, there is a wealth of opportunity and choice in your market segment covering all the cuisines of the globe. Traditionally a good business model would advise upping your game as more competition enters the market, not to bury your head in the sand and cower with your tail between your legs. For god's sake man, don't become the Angus Steakhouse of the Oriental food world! Scrape yourself up, give yourself a good talking to, have some pride and give me my good food back! On the upside your duck spring rolls are still nice but that's about it. Maybe in time we could try being friends but right now I think we need some space. Farewell to the Ping Pong of old, you will be dearly missed. A bientot; it's not me, it's you. Yours, with sadness, S x Various visits. Last one: March 2012

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

Monia W. 30 May 2010

We went to a few Ping Pong, non of them have good service. this place is disgrace. why do we want to pay to get such awful service when the food is not that particular good??!!! the host of this place should be fired, or maybe the manager, if they don't understand the value of customer, or if they don't want to serve, why are they there? I know some restaurants just happen to have big investment behind, so they afford to have best locations, no matter what they serve, or how bad is the service, people just flood in.. unless you have no place to eat, otherwise, don't bother. go to Ping Pong, just waste your money! go to china town, you can get better dimsum and better service!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Edward S. 07 April 2010

Excellent fresh and steaming food. A great selection of different flavoured things to choose from, and the crispy hoi sin duck spring rolls were superb. Plus they sell Tiger Beer, so we were quite happy. Only complaint is that the waiter could have explained the menu a bit better, but otherwise – very impressed.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

Leah C. 27 February 2010

We had a terrible experience here last night – service was abysmal, in fact its only the second time ever that I have refused to pay the ‘optional’ service charge. The food was ok, standards have definitely dropped from previous Ping Pong experiences, and the serving size for the pok choy was almost hilariously meagre (for £4!). We were never asked if we wanted drinks after the first round (we did) and after waiting 1 ½ hours for the final dish we were we told graciously that it would be complimentary, which was lucky as we were getting ready to leave. If you are after a quick eat in the southbank area there are plenty of other similar options nearby that I would recommend. Sorry Ping Pong – never again.

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Special offers

Festive indulgence £34.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

Seasonal feast £24.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

Merry treats £19.95 per person

From: 06 October 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 0

London Restaurant Festival 2017 - 7 dishes & a glass of wine £20 per person

From: 02 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 10

Baos and Bubbles for two, just £18.50

From: 18 July 2017

To: 05 September 2050

Max: 0

Theatre menu - 2 courses & soft drink £12, 3 courses & soft drink £15 per person

From: 15 February 2017

To: 30 December 2017

Max: 8

Lazy Sumdays - Unlimited Dim Sum £24.95 per person, £11.95 for under 12s

From: 06 October 2016

To: 31 December 2017

Max: 9