Family Style: Kid-Friendly Bites of Dim Sum at Ping Pong

By Annalisa Burgos

Family Style chronicles an urban mom’s search for DC area restaurants that both kids and adults will enjoy.

What makes a perfect kid’s food? Mess-free. Bite-sized. Easy to handle and chew. Healthy. Flavorful.

All that describes my favorite type of food – dim sum. Whether it’s steamed vegetable dumplings or chicken spring rolls, these Chinese tapas are packed with flavor and great for tiny hands.

As a child, I ate dim sum two to three times a month at Chinese restaurants where ladies walk down the aisles with metal carts filled with goodies like har gow, pork buns and chicken feet.

You’ll find these places in Virginia or Maryland, but if you’re a downtown DC mom like me, your dim sum choices are limited. I heard about Ping Pong, checked out its menu online and saw it’s more expensive than what I usually pay for dim sum. I compromised by taking the family to the Chinatown location during happy hour, when they offer specials.

The restaurant is no Chinese dive; rather, the sleek and trendy lounge setting attracts a young professional crowd, with its low lighting, dark wood tones and pulsating music. None of this bothered me, because hey, I like to think I’m still young and hip.

We ordered the Vietnamese rice paper shrimp roll and seafood shu mai and plopped them in front of our 18-month-old Alex. He grabbed each piece, chewing slowly, like a food critic taking time to distinguish the flavors. He practiced using chopsticks but decided it was easier to eat by hand.

Meanwhile, mom and dad took advantage of happy hour drink specials like the lychee and roses martini. We also ordered from the regular dinner menu, devouring tender chicken puffs, mouth-watering king prawn and scallop sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, and fish and black pepper dumplings with a kick.

What I like best about dim sum is that it’s a great way to expose your child to a new palate of flavors, beyond the same old burger and fries. And if you’re feeling ambitious, turn family dinnertime into a lesson in Chinese culture and the use of chopsticks.

Ping Pong Chinatown
900 7th St. NW
(202) 506-3740

Ping Pong Dupont Circle
1 Dupont Circle NW 20036
(202) 293-1268

About Annalisa Burgos

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  • Lara

    Ping Pong is one of my favs in DC! I’ve tried every seafood and veggie option on the menu – plus their bottomless mimosas on Sunday. The Sunday party brunch is the best. One price and you can order anything and as much as you want on the menu for two hours (except the ribs – they’re not included). Call me stuffed!