Chinese New Year celebrations in London, which hosts the biggest party outside of Asia, are always loud and colourful and usually come with delicious food, decorations, dragons and dancing.
So when an email from Ping Pong popped into my mailbox, inviting me over for an evening of dim sums, cocktails and general mischief to celebrate the beginning of the year of the monkey, I knew I was in for a treat.
Tucked right behind the Royal Festival Hall, Ping Pong’s Southbank venue is an absolute beauty of a restaurant!
Complete with olive booths, dark wood tables, statement lamps and enough cocktails to make any party an immediate success!
One of the Chinese New Year specials, the Dizzy Monkey (Monkey shoulder whiskey, Hedonist cognac, lemon juice, vanilla syrup and daisy flower rim)
Lychee and Roses martini (beefeater gin, rose petals, fresh lemon juice and lychee juice) and Ping Pong (martini bianco, white wine and lychee juice)
Last but not least, my favourite of them all: the 47 Drunken Monkeys.
A refreshing twist on the classic G&T with monkey 47 gin, pedrino tonic, pedro ximenes and citrus, lavender, poppy seeds and pink grapefruit.
Isn’t it a beauty?
Add to that some brilliant entertainment (in the form of DJ music, belly dancers and fortune tellers) and you’re onto a winner of a party!
But it wouldn’t be a Ping Pong party without the dim sums, and it was lovely to be able to learn how to fold them with some of the restaurant’s chefs.
It looks so simple when expert hands are at work, but I can tell you it’s not quite as easy as it seems (and I’ll need another 25 lessons before I start to get the hang of it!)
Luckily, I wasn’t in charge of catering and instead of my misformed dumplings, we were treated to a taste of Ping Pong’s best dishes.
Including the incredibly golden 4 mushroom puffs
Beautifully crispy prawn toasts
And best of all, the Firecracker Chicken Rolls.
A spicy Chinese New Year special that’s sure to please the mighty Fire Monkey himself!
And some excellent cinnamon ice cream to top it all.
And a little wish never hurts…
Playful, fun, full of life and free from inhibitions, the Chinese New Year celebrations at Ping Pong were the perfect introduction to the year of the monkey.
I hope yours started as brilliantly as mine. If not, you know where to go!
Ping Pong, Festival Terrace, South Bank Centre, London SE1 8XX