I really want to like Ping. The staff is friendly, the food is uniformly delicious, the decor reminds me somewhat of a Gibson novel and it is located within walking distance to my home. What’s not to love, right?
I really want to like Ping.
The staff is friendly, the food is uniformly delicious, the decor reminds me somewhat of a Gibson novel and it is located within walking distance to my home. What’s not to love, right?
Well, the pricing, for one. On a recent early Friday evening, my dining partner and I came in for a light dinner: three skewers each (about five inches of meat per stick), two miniature fried spring rolls each and we split a BBQ pork steam bun. Add two vodka cocktails plus a nonalcoholic pomegranate drinking vinegar and our grand total for our appetizer-sized dinner was $43.
And $8 for a bowl of instant ramen noodles? Say what? It does not matter how much you dress up the soup with herbs or eggs or meat, ramen is still the universal food of starving college students everywhere. It is pretty much blasphemy to pay more than $1 for something that is sold for eight to 10 cents a bag at the grocery store.
The hefty tab for tiny plates isn’t the only eyebrow-raising point to Ping’s prices. When ordering skewers, diners are presented with a wide variety of options—anything from grilled buffalo, lime and sea salt shrimp, to chicken butt (yes, chicken butt). This would be a great chance for a few friends to explore new cuisine, but Ping doesn’t let you mix and match your skewer choices to your heart’s content. Instead, the restaurant requires diners to order a minimum of two skewers per choice.
Further complicating the matter, they list the single skewer price on the menu, leaving you and your friends to figure out how much it’s going to run you. While I sincerely hope Vanguard readers can multiply by two, the simple fact is, you shouldn’t have to. The menu prices do not reflect how much you will actually be paying for what you are ordering. My question for Ping is: Why bother with the single-portion prices at all, especially when all skewers are not priced the same?
Ping’s layout is, like their portion sizes, on the skimpy side. This is not a place to bring your large pack of friends before barhopping downtown. Tables are arranged as two-seaters for the most part. The Friday I went in, the largest group seated was five people, clustered around a table meant for four.
This is surprising for a restaurant clearly designed around sharing food. With the two-per-flavor minimum on skewers, a group of two or three people will not get the full experience from ordering a variety unless they over-order and take some home, and yet any group of culinary thrill-seekers is not likely to be enticed by a small crowded dining area packed with tables for two.
But enough kvetching about the cost; Ping’s food is delicious and interesting. The tiny fried spring rolls are adorable and they are presented with lettuce and herbs to wrap them in before dipping in the sauce. The cool, fresh cilantro and mint provided an electric contrast to the hot, crunchy rolls that was simply addictive.
The iced drinking vinegar is just as habit forming. Think Italian soda but with a tartness to it and you’re on the right track. The pomegranate version I sampled was crisp and light without a heavy sweetness or syrupy taste to it.
If you have the extra cash to burn, Ping is a great spot for a light lunch or dinner in the warmer months ahead. And really, you know you want to go at least once, just so you can make sophomoric jokes about chicken butt on a stick.