Ping Pong Diplo­macy

Ping Pong Diplo­macy’s ap­proach to Chi­nese-amer­i­can cui­sine will win you over.

Yummy (Philippines) - - Contents - RE­VIEW BY IDGE MEN­DI­OLA

The mis­fits, the rebels, the trou­ble­mak­ers? They’re all here, and they’re ready for rounds of pad­dle play un­til the ball finds its place in their court. It’s not dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand Ping Pong Diplo­macy’s phi­los­o­phy. There’s a por­trait of Mao Ze­dong on one wall, an over­all feel of dai pai dong-meet­sAmer­ica, and the clash­ing of col­ors of two of the world’s su­per­pow­ers in ev­ery cor­ner. Sud­denly, Chi­nese cui­sine is pro­gres­sive and pro-amer­i­can.

Re­mem­ber, though, that the rev­o­lu­tion didn’t start here. Many restau­rants have tried to elevate Chi­nese cook­ing, yet closed shop even be­fore gain­ing a fol­low­ing. Si­noamer­i­can was thought to be a good start­ing point, with Filipinos com­ing home from their US trips as Panda Ex­press fa­nat­ics crav­ing for sticky orange chicken and sweet chow mein. In­tro­duc­ing fu­sion to a mar­ket loyal to their lau­ri­ats and lazy su­sans was deemed a chal­lenge, but it was one sprightly taken on by a group of rule-break­ers led by Charles Paw, al­ready known for open­ing ir­rev­er­ent restau­rant con­cepts like Hey Hand­some, Bad Bird, and Wrong Ra­men. With him are chefs Him Uy de Baron, Noel Mauri­cio, and Miko Aspi­ras, who’ve each con­tributed cru­cial points to the team’s stand­ing.

How are they chang­ing the play­ing field? First with fa­mil­iar dishes you can al­ways rely on, ex­cept they’ve all been gussied up: siomai in­fused with truf­fle, won­tons filled with ground beef and cheese, and egg tarts that sit on flaky mille-feuille crusts. They’re good op­tions if you want to take things slow and steady, but make sure to leave room for the real MVPS. The Prawn Scotch Egg and Not Mapo Tofu are glo­ri­ous rein­car­na­tions that play good of­fense, while the 12 spice­coated Ping Pong Wings de­liv­ers a killer punch. There are carb op­tions, too, but what you re­ally need to com­ple­ment your viands is plain white rice. (It’s on the menu,

but on the bot­tom of the page.) Or­der a bowl to bal­ance out all the bold fla­vors. There are a cou­ple of bench­warm­ers, too, like the could-be-crunchier Crunchy Egg­plant and the over-the-top Surf and Turf Noodles. What’s left of your stom­ach space is bet­ter off with the de­light­fully chewy For­tune Balls and Ts­ing­tao Beer.

You will see a lot of crispy leeks, sweet pick­led cu­cum­bers, and ed­i­ble flow­ers on your plates, and those only add to what the restau­rant stands for. Some­times it pays to play with food, to re­lax the rules a lit­tle, and to take a risk. Con­sider that the restau­rant sits in the mid­dle of a mall when it could have eas­ily found its place in the gen­tri­fied neigh­bor­hoods of Makati. It’s a risk the team took for the sake of good, fun din­ing. It’s time that you take your own. Here’s to the crazy ones!

Ping Pong Wings

For­tune Balls

Not Mapo Tofu

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