The opening of Ping’s Cafe Orient has been a highly anticipated one, which we credit to the success of Dhariwal siblings, Rakshay and Radhika’s other two F&B ventures, PCO and ATM. DSSC was invited for an exclusive tasting of the menu, which when the restaurant opens to the public on May 15, will feature 80 dishes from Southeast and East Asia.
A bit of friendly sibling hair pulling between the two ended with the decision of opening their very first completely public restaurant with Asian food. Located in Lodhi Colony Main Market, what sets this restaurant apart is that Ping’s Cafe Orient’s menu serves Asian Street food, healthy and modern. When we met up with Rakshay, he told us that soon their menu will include a lot of vegan and gluten-free dishes to keep up with the healthy trend that is running a marathon in Delhi.
As we entered the restaurant, the decor took us by a nice surprise and continued to surprise us through the night. The street-food theme is painted everywhere – in every nook and cranny of the place – along with a few quirky elements here and there to modernise the look and feel of Ping’s. The first site is of the Maître-d is standing behind an old-school post box to escort you to your seat, so if you ever have mail to drop you know where to go! When you take your seat, you’ll notice taps on the wall next to you and for a moment you’ll wonder about their significance until you realise they’re for hanging your bag. Ingenious!
BTW, here’s an insider’s tip: You’ll also find sockets on the wall with a black switch and mind you, they are not for show only but to switch on the green light bulb that is hanging above your table. They are to “ping” the serving staff – airline service brought down to on-land restaurants!
The fun streety elements continue towards the bar as well where the alcohol stash is kept in vegetable crates. Upstairs in the smoking area, hanging above are beautiful conical Vietnamese straw hats. And boy are we glad they made it out of customs, where, Rakshay told us they were stuck for the “longest time”.
Right outside the bathroom, there is a barber-shop set up, you know, for you to do a quick hair check in case the bathroom is occupied. Don’t miss out on the laundry hanging from wires above the stairs, because it’s not just any laundry, they’re bhane’s clothes! So yes, we thoroughly enjoyed decoding the decor of the place to uncover the streets everywhere.
Ping’s kick-started our evening with an innovative Virgin Miso Mary, where the salt is replaced with Japanese Miso paste. It was lovely! The salty flavour of miso was properly balanced by the sweetness of tomato juice, and the drink was properly chilled, making it perfect for Delhi summers. At the end of our meal, we realised how the mocktail acted as a palate cleanser in between meals. An unexpected surprise indeed. Prawn crackers were served with a black bean jam, which was absolutely on the money, to munch on while we waited for our dishes.
Executive Chef Prantush Rai kindly started us off with Gomae, a healthy Japanese side dish made of boiled spinach and sesame paste. This combination was new to us and one that we completely enjoyed. The boiled and lightly seasoned spinach was well complemented by the smooth paste made of roasted sesames.
There are many places in Delhi that can serve you a good plate of Pad Thai but how many can you count that will serve it to you wrapped in egg? Just the one! Chef Rai created a thin net of egg to wrap his peanut-y Pad Thai in it instead of scrambling an egg in the Pad Thai. How creative! This was one of our favourites of the night!
Next, the Chef moved us on to Vietnam with a bowl of Pho with tenderloin. The tenderloin was tender, the broth was well and subtly flavoured and the bowl was topped with greens – everything you could want from a comforting bowl of Pho. Another tick mark for Ping’s!
We wrapped up the night with Banana Pudding with in-house Coconut and Jaggery ice cream. DSSC foodies love a dessert that isn’t overpowered with sweetness and in that regard this dessert aced it. Banana, a fruit that can undo a dessert if not done right, was well-matched with sticky rice and altogether was balanced with a beautiful ice-cream screaming of coconut, ending the night on long and lovely lasting sensations.
At Ping’s, you’re obviously bound to find good cocktails and mocktails, since they’re from the house of PCO and ATM. On that note, find your way to Ping’s and do try their Ping’s fashion, which is a twist on Rakshay’s favourite cocktail, the Old Fashioned, which has star anise and cinnamon syrup served with bourbon on the rocks, of course!
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