By Logan Hollers
The sights and sounds of fall never fail to bring back some of our fondest memories – feeling a crisp chill in the air, hearing the crunch of changing leaves underfoot, and, most importantly, getting to sample new autumn food and booze menus… Alright, alright – that last one is a relatively recent trend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new memories now!
We recently had the chance to check out the new fall cocktails and the soon-to-be-introduced East West brunch menu at Ping Pong Dim Sum. The Dupont Circle hotspot is sleek and chic – a dark, sexy spot. Dim sum is Chinese for “little bundles of awesome.” (Having never studied Chinese, that may or not be correct.). In terms of dim sum in D.C. proper, you’d be hard pressed to find better than Ping Pong’s offerings, and their new East West brunch menu showcases some recent additions to the menu. From land, standouts include the sesame beef and sweet chili meatballs and the ruby red braised beef and cabernet dumpling (a little wine in the dumpling mix makes this one a treat for the eyes as well); by sea, a favorite was the blue crab and sweet corn shu mai topped with tobiko (teeny flying fish eggs).
Meat not your thing? Ping Pong has you covered with their mushroom puff pastry with sweet potato and sage (enoki, shitake, shimeji, oh my!), edamame and truffle dumpling, and their egg and cheese breakfast spring rolls, stuffed with sharp white cheddar, peppers, and spring onion. Ever had a gas station taquito (and loved it)? Us too. Ping Pong’s new brunch spring rolls are the Lexus to the fill-up station taquito’s old rustbucket – an amped-up crunchy, spicy, savory taste.
Ping Pong, however, is smart enough to realize that one can’t fill up on dim sum alone. As such, they’re also debuting new brunch entrees, including shanghai shrimp and grits with spicy lap cheong sausage over congee (savory rice porridge), sesame chicken and green tea waffles with lemongrass and ginger maple syrup, a twist on loco moco with Sichuan hangar steak and fried eggs over sticky rice, and a dynamite five-spice pork belly benedict with sautéed baby bok choy and sriracha hollandaise (so good). Ping Pong has your sweet-tooths, (Sweet-teeths? Okay sugar) covered as well, offering up black tea brioche French toast with a mango and Thai basil diced fruit salad.
But we all know full well the real reason we brunch – day drinking. Ping Pong is just as solid on the liquid side as they are the vittles, offering up a whole new selection of fall-themed cocktails. Chilly weather calls for dark, robust flavors, and the new Sichuan Fig Manhattan is the perfect cure for those cold weekend mornings. Whiskey, vermouth, and Sichuan-infused fig liqueur combine to make an interesting twist on the classic Manhattan, and one we’d happily quaff again. Craving a little more spice? Why not hop on the Chinese Mule – tart and refreshing, this mix of vodka and sake is muddled with fresh ginger and coriander, shaken, then topped off with ginger beer. A garnish of fresh cilantro makes this drink the perfect accompaniment to a table full of dumplings. Never one to miss a trend, Ping Pong has also jumped on the molecular gastronomy train, offering a new take on the classic Bloody Mary; this iteration uses white tea infused vodka, smoked water (it’s a real thing – we checked), and a salty celery foam. The theme of Far East riffs on classic cocktails continues in the Vanilla and Chili Sidecar, the Lychee and Roses martini, and the Yuzu and Ginger Sour. So basically, close your eyes and point at the menu – you’ll be happy with your choice.
Ping Pong’s new fall cocktail list debuted Tuesday and is available all times. The new East West Brunch starts tomorrow!
Photos courtesy of Ping Pong Dim Sum.