Delicious dim sum at Ping Pong Southbank 

Dining with friends, Invitation only! PR events

I was given the opportunity to write a blog post for Ping Pong.   Ping Pong are group of restaurants serving Dim Sum, cocktails and Chinese teas. The essence of Dim Sum culture is sharing among family and friends. 

I’ve only dined at a couple of Dim Sum restaurants before and they are featured in the Michelin guide (if you’re familiar with my posts you’ll know I’m a sucker for Michelin recommended restaurants) so my Dim Sum standards were set high. My dinner guest adores Chinese food and this was her 4th Chinese meal in the space of a week.  

We were quickly seated in a very busy restaurant. The branch I visited is located on the Southbank I could see the London eye from my seat. This is an extremely popular restaurant, people who had walked in on the off chance of getting a table happily waited for a table to become available, this is always a good sign. Fortunately I had a reservation, I’d highly recommend booking prior to visiting, I went on a Monday evening and it was very busy.  

 We were sat down, tables are quite close together, which is a good way to get a sneak peak of the food on offer. As it was our first visit the menu was explained. Dim Sum is prepared as small bite-sized food. Plates are small and Ping Pong encourages sharing so dishes have been created for this purpose. It was recommended to order 3 dishes each. I got my pencil and ticked off all our food choices.  

Nibbles and sauces I ordered black sesame seed prawn crackers with spicy mango sauce. Although surprised by the colour they were delicious and not at all greasy like the usual ones you get free with a takeaway.  

  
From the soups and salads I ordered the classic chicken wonton and noodle soup. Not the most elegant dish to eat with chopsticks! We had an abundance of sauces on the table so I added some chilli sauce to this dish to give it a kick. When I managed to get hold of the slippery wonton I really enjoyed it.  

  
From the rice dishes I ordered honeyed chilli chicken and mushroom rice pot. This was one of my favourite dishes the sauce covering the chicken and mushrooms was lovely and sweet and sticky and very comforting.  

  
From the special and signature dishes I ordered fire cracker chicken roll. These really were like little fire crackers! The pastry was so crisp and the filling was certainly fiery as was the dip. The touch of pomegranates gave a pretty colour to the dish and a slight relief to the chilli.  

  
Fried and grilled was a tough choice but I went for prawn toast with sesame seeds and chilli beef parcels. The prawn toast was amazing! A huge juicy prawn on toast beautifully presented in a sesame coated done. I could have eaten a whole plate of these to myself, but it wouldn’t be very Ping Pong like to hog them all.   

  The beef and chilli parcels were really good too, lovely and crispy.  

From the steamed I went for the char Sui bun and chicken and cashew nut dumpling. The bun was not a bun as I had imagined. It’s a little gathering of clouds encasing a delicious honeyed BBQ pork. I don’t think I should have ate the backing paper though?! 

  
The chicken and cashew were an accidental choice as I ticked the wrong box but I’m glad I did as they were lovely.  

  
I was really impressed with all the food. The service was quick and the food came as and when it was ready, which was good for us as there wouldn’t have been enough room for all our dishes. The servers were great too, really friendly and helpful, even though I did knock almost an entire bottle of soy sauce over! Sorry! 

I arrived at Ping Pong with the dim sum bar set high and they definitely reached it. There is so much more on the menu I would love to try. So I’m considering revisiting for LAZY SUMDAYS – ALL YOU CAN EAT DIM SUM!!! 

Ping Ping offer Unlimited dim sum for just £22.95 per person, or £11.50 for your under 12s. Available on Sundays and Monday bank holidays only. Drinks, seasonal specials, set menus, special dishes and desserts are not included in this menu. 

With Easter Sunday and a bank holiday Monday coming up its a perfect excuse to go back.

   
 Thank you to Ping Pong for inviting me to write this post.  

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The Ultimate Queensbury Kitchen experience 

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

Red kite PR had invited me to attend an event at The Queensbury Kitchen, North West London, a two minute walk from Willesden Green tube station.  The restaurant has only been open for a couple of months but they certainly look to be doing ok.  The Queensbury Kitchen is a bar and grill offering grill favourites made with fresh, specially sourced British ingredients.  They serve cocktails as well as craft beers and are open for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer brunch at weekends.

 I was one of the first to arrive just after 6:00 the event started at 6:30, well I would have been even earlier if it wasn’t for me attending the wrong venue!  The Queensbury kitchen actually have a sister, The Queensbury gastropub.  Very nice indeed, although I only stayed a few minutes until I was told I was at the wrong place and meant to be down the road! Oh dear! Not the best start.  

So I walked two minutes down the road in the opposite direction to the correct venue.  This is what happens when I don’t use google maps!

I walked in, nervously introduced myself and clambered onto a stall up at a communal table and fellow food lovers began to join me.  I had a good spot, right next to the bar.  To kick off I ordered a QK signature cocktail.  I was here for the ultimate Queensbury kitchen experience so it seemed obvious to choose a drink with the same name.  


Slush puppy red served in a martini glass with a stawberry balanced on the rim. It tasted as good as it looked.  

A popular choice was the Mango Chilli Caipiroska.  This had a real kick.  It looked really pretty too with the bits of red chilli against the chunks of mango.  

My personal favourite – Evergreen Avocado, but not as you know it.  This was delicious so creamy and I thought it had a similar taste to a key lime pie. 

So I sipped and chatted and I felt really comfortable.  Everyone was friendly and asking each other questions I had relaxed and felt at ease.  

The room was full of eager food enthusiasts and the food arrived.   Mini burgers, chicken wings, ribs, paneer kebabs, salmon, macaroni cheese, onion rings, chips, sweet potato fries, beans, salad, this was a full on banquet! 

The food was incredible and I was sure to tell the chef, Wayne as he proudly looked on at everybody devouring his delicious food. 


The crispy chicken wings were fantastic, lovely crunch to the skin.  


The ribs were also amazing.  They fell off the bone, were succulent and the sauce was soooo good.  


The paneer kebabs were a lovely tasty surprise the tiny little kebab packed so much flavour.  


I loved the mini burgers too, perfectly cooked petit burgers that were pink in the middle just like they should be.  The burgers here are served pink unless otherwise requested.  


The sides were equally good, the sweet potato fries were crisp and the onion rings were yummy, you could tell they were home made.  I love the cute cups and buckets they’re served in. 


The food is such a high standard, it is all homemade and ingredients are sourced by head chef Wayne Bumfrey.  You can really taste and obviously see that it has been made with love.  

As the plates were cleared I popped to the toilet.  Being a mum I did notice a baby change facility, which is fantastic, a sign that families are welcome.  The Manager, Stephanie Peel has customer service as her top priority.  The community spirit that she has witnessed grow while managing the sister pub seems to have spilled into The Queensbury Kitchen as there was such a mix of people when I first arrived and it felt so welcoming and relaxed.  

As I arrived back to the table the desserts had arrived! OMG! There was chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ice cream sundaes, cinnamon sugar churros with chocolate sauce and a bread and butter pudding.  


I’d missed my opportunity to take pics of everything but I did get to sample it all.  My favourite was the lovely rich chocolate brownie and I loved how the ice cream sundaes were served in the traditional tall glass.  


I was lovely and full and our evening had come to an end.  I thanked everyone and said my goodbyes and felt quite proud that I had attended my first blogging event and it had been a success.  What’s great is that I genuinely loved the place and will definitely return.  The communal table in the middle where we sat is perfect for large groups.  I look forward to coming here with a group of friends and enjoying another evening of gorgeous cocktails and food.  I’d also consider coming here with my husband and my two young children.  They’d be fascinated with the light fixtures and it will be great to eat homemade comforting food rather than the frozen kind other grill restaurants offer.  

So I attended my first media event as a blogger and this is my blog post! 

Tipsy times at Mango Tree

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

My friend and I recently had a limited edition wine pairings menu which included 5 wines and 5 small dishes. Wines were matched up with a particular dish to enhance flavours.

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All the dishes were really flavoursome. I especially enjoyed the spicy prawns. The wine pairings were great, a good selection of red and whites and a delicate desert wine, all matched well and were poured generously. I had to drive later that evening so I was only tasting the wines and passing my remaining wine to my friend.

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Scallops and Prawns Spicy

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Beef salad, Lamb rack & Chicken salad

By the time we got to the dessert course my friend had now had lots of wine and was very tipsy. She was getting food envy ( think she was at kebab craving drunk now) so before our dessert pairing she decided she wanted to order some additional dishes.

We ordered tempura soft shell crab and tempura lobster, I really enjoyed these. The crab was served in 3 pieces, I would have preferred the crab was left whole as I think it looks more impressive but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. The lobster was really good too.

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 Tempura soft shell crab and tempura lobster

The dining room was very busy and service was surprisingly attentive considering the large amount of diners. The dining room felt huge.

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Mango creme brulee

I had a really fun evening, my friend did get a quite tipsy and to my amusement attempted to exit through the cloakroom, the attendant politely ushered her out and directed her to the door. This was after she had hugged various staff on her way to the exit in appreciation of her great night.

Overall a great experience, good flavoursome food with a buzzing atmosphere.  My tipsy friend provided great entertainment.

Fond memories of Soho at the House of Ho

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

This was my first Vietnamese dining experience. The restaurant is located on Old Compton Street. Before I settled down I used to have many post work drinks around Soho so it was nice to be back as I have some very fond memories.

I had won a competition through last minute on twitter and my friend and I were able to choose three dishes each from a set menu. As there were six dishes in total we chose all six to share.

The menu was as follows

Fresh Vegetable Rice Paper Rolls with Vegetable Noodles served with a Peanut Sauce

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Stuffed Tofu with Mushrooms Cellophane Noodles & Herbs

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Grilled Chicken Wings in a Spicy Chili Glaze

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Bobby’s Duck ‘a la Banana’ Blossom Salad

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Braised Pork Cheeks

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Lemongrass Chicken in a Fish Caramel Sauce

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I really enjoyed my first Vietnamese. The flavours were great. Bobby’s Duck Salad packed a punch, all the different textures were great and my throat was on fire from the chillies, it was pleasurable though.

The braised pork cheeks were so soft they could be cut with a spoon, the chilli glaze on the chicken wings was delicious. I really enjoyed every dish.

Tofu is not something I would ever really order as I’m a carnivorous meat eater but I enjoyed the tofu nonetheless. My friend adored the fragrant lemongrass chicken. I really enjoyed all the flavoursome food and even got to show of my chop stick skills, although I did start using the fork so I could get bigger mouthfuls.

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My friend and I has a fabulous evening, I even saw Bobby chin as I was shown to my table, my friend isn’t a foodie so didn’t even recognise him, even though his face was plastered all over the cookery books around the entrance.

This menu is usually £16 per person available 12 – 6:30 Monday – Saturday, for three dishes with a glass of bubbly and a side of Jasmine rice, an absolute bargain in my opinion!

Great place to come and ‘share’ a meal.

2014 – My year in restaurants

Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Dining with friends, Dining with Mum, Dining with the Children, Dining with the Husband, Food Festival, Michelin Star Restaurant, Non Michelin Restaurants, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience, Three Michelin Star, Two Michelin Star

2014 has been a year of amazing restaurant experiences for my husband and I.  Halfway through the year I decided to start documenting my meals on WordPress to share with fellow foodies and to remind myself of the delicious plates of food that have been sat in front of me.

January
The year started off with my birthday meal at the Midsummer house.  As we approached the restaurant, walking over the bridge, the beautiful fairy lights looked magical.  The food I encountered was also magic.  I loved this restaurant, it was very romantic and felt special, the food was incredible and a perfect destination for celebrating my special day.  I loved the BBQd beetroot.  

February
Birth month for my husband and we dined at the Ledbury for his special day.  The service was amazing we had the tasting menu.  We were actually allowed into the kitchen and got to meet Brett Graham who was very welcoming to us.  

We also got to celebrate Valentines day in style at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

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March
I took my Mum for Mother’s Day to The Skylounge at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Tower of London.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the champagne and cocktails went down a treat!

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Me & my Mummy

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April
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and stayed at Penny Hill Park and we dinned in their 2 Michelin Star The Latymer.  This was an incredible evening away, the hotel upgraded our room, the spa is the best I’ve visited and to have this incredible restaurant located in the hotel made it perfection.

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Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

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Beautiful roll top bath

May
We ate at the highly anticipated Fera, hubby was desperate to get a table for the opening week but had to settle for the opening fortnight.  I loved this meal.  I loved the excitement in the dining room, I loved the way Simon Rogan presented us one of our courses and I loved that it’s so much like L’Enclume (another of my favourite restaurants).

During May I also experienced the John Lewis Garden Room pop up restaurant, twice

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And attended the ‘too many chefs’ event at the Drapers Arms in aid of action against huger.  10 chefs, 10 different courses.

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I also had a catch up with a dear friend at the two Michelin star restaurant Hibiscus. We ate from the amazing value set menu and had such a lovely time before we knew it we were the last two people in the restaurant.   I loved the ‘Pork Pie’ dish.

June
We attended the best food festival London has to offer, Taste of London.  I have been to most of the London food festivals this year and in my opinion this is head and shoulders above the rest.

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I also had a fab girly night at Shaka Zulu, Camden

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I attended a meet the makers event at Bread Street Kitchen with Gonzales Byass Sherries.

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July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

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We took the kids to The Big Easy

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Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

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I made marvellous macarons at Jenius Social, which was really good fun, and hard work too!

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August
I visited the lovely Tamarind of Mayfair, where I had my first taste of lobster in the form of a masala and I particularly enjoyed the Papdi chaat.  This is a fantastic restaurant the staff are lovely, it’s like being in your local Indian, but they have a prestigious Michelin Star.

This was the month I also faced my fear trying Sashimi at Yashin ocean house and actually enjoyed the experience.

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One of the best and most underrated restaurant I visited this year was Launceston Place.  I was certain this would get a second Michelin star as the food and service we received certainly deserved it!

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September

I dined 100ft high in the sky with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
London and Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

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I also experienced a kitchen takeover Glynn Purnell at Nathan’s Outlaw’s at The Capital

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October
We visited the sophisticated Alyn Williams at The Westbury, my second experience of Alyn Williams’ food but with my feet firmly on the ground.

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Booked almost a year prior to the visit we eventually visited Tom Kerridge’s famous pub The hand and flowers.  It was great and the food was fantastic particularly the desserts.

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Drakes restaurant Woking was a lovely treat and with no expectations I was very pleasantly surprised.  Great feel to the dining room and fantastic food really liked way the cheese course was presented.

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November
This was a casual month where I dined with friends.
I dined at the The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington and it definitely is the best fish and chips I’ve had.  I loved the quirky decor too.

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Another place I visited was The Remedy wine bar, a fantastic little gem. Real cosy place offering great  charcuterie and cheese boards and quality wine.   My friend and I had a fab evening here. I will definitely be revisiting in 2015 for more catch ups with friends.

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We attended Taste of winter for the first time.  Had loads of fun and I tried food from Kurobuta London and it is a restaurant I look forward to visiting in the new year.

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I also attended a SPIES event at South Place Hotel and had a fantastic magical mystery evening.

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December
For the second year running I enjoyed a festive afternoon tea with my friends at the Conrad Hotel, Westminister.  With free flowing champagne for £45 I think this is an absolute bargain! I’m sure to be back again next December.

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So that’s a round up of my year, what a great year it has been too!  Thank you to my hubby for taking me for all these incredible meals and thank you so much to all the restaurants for the incredible food and service received.

Here’s to 2015!

 

Twitter competition win – dinner for 4 at Shaka Zulu

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

I’m fairly new to twitter so I still get excited when a notification flashes up on my phone “Congrats @FoodObsessedSam! You have won a meal for 4 with @ShakaZuluLondon.” Yes!!! I shouted to myself inside.  I was sat at my work desk so had to refrain from jumping up and down and getting too excited!

I sorted out a reservation and invited some friends that I have kept in contact with since school. Since having children my lifestyle has completely changed.   I can’t just do as I please anymore my life revolves around my babies.  So I was excited to meet up, have a good catch up and relax without a child’s endearing strop at the dinner table.IMG_1006

I travelled in from Kent, when I arrived in Camden I got lost in stables market, I had to ring ahead and say I was lost, the lady who answered the phone did try to direct me but I’m useless at listening to directions.   I’d come from chalk farm station, I should have checked their website and come from Camden town as my friends did.   I’m really not familiar with Camden.   This was my second visit in about six years.   The last time I was in Camden was for a gig at the roundhouse preceded by a drinking session in the Weatherspoons.

We went through the front door and down an escalator to the front of house, my friend was already impressed just with the escalator, she’s easily pleased.   We were greeted and shown to our table, to my friends delight we went down yet another escalator!   First impression I have to say the restaurant is incredible.   The atmosphere is buzzing and there’s no shortage of diners.   There are two gigantic golden warriors guarding the restaurant and beautiful carved wooden murals covering the walls.   It was truly stunning and I was really impressed, I was quite blown away actually.

We were presented a glass of champagne, and were asked if we wanted a bottle of red or white, I chose white wine, surprisingly it was really decent. I only say that as I’ve progressed into a bit of a wine buff.

We ate from a set menu, starters were served on an impressive sharing platter including Ham Hock, Wildebeest Terrine with Papaya Salsa and Springbok Carpaccio.

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These were both really delicious, all the accompaniments were really good too.   For main I chose spit roast of the day which was pork.   The fat was a little too soft for my liking, but I still enjoyed the dish it had a great kick to it.

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The desserts also came on a sharing platter including panna cotta and chocolate tart, all the little desserts were lovely.

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I won’t lie and say the food was amazing just because it was complimentary.   The food was good, and better than I had expected, but what was amazing was the service and the restaurant itself.   Our server was very attentive but left us alone to talk and enjoy ourselves.

The restaurant is not serving up Michelin quality food but it is not claiming to they are however serving, Zebra, crocodile and ostrich which is there USP.   One of my friends was keen to bring her next date here.   I would like to come back to try the more exotic meats.

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I had a great evening and I was really impressed.   The venue really is stunning !   It had a great atmosphere and everyone is dressed to impress. This is a great place for girls nights and groups and the food offerings are great.   I do recommend this place as it’s great fun and not many restaurants can claim that.