Blurb: The closest space Delhi has to a South East Asian hawker’s market
Cuisine: South East Asian
Atmospherics: The Ploof of old has been taken over by new management. The interiors are bright and colourful, there is an electric bell attached to an overhead light at every table: every time you want the attention of the service staff, you turn on the switch, as in an aircraft. But that is a gimmick because the service staff is so attentive and so proactive that you really do not have to ring any bells. Everything from the brands of beer served at the restaurant (including the draught beer that was still to arrive on the day of my visit) are South East Asian brands; the décor replicates hawkers’ signages in Bangkok and Hong Kong and the utterly charming and quirky décor on the first floor landing begs for a trip to the washroom just to see it!
Table talk: every salad or appetizer is spot-on authentic. Just as in a hawker’s centre, all preparations in each section are priced equally. Thus, the salads all cost Rs 245, irrespective of whether they are vegetarian or meat-based. Pomelo Salad is excellently presented, with a drizzle of microgreens, and has a hint of powdered palm sugar as well as finely sliced red chillies to cut the sweetness. Spicy beef salad has tender slices of beef superbly seasoned: it is probably the single most successful of their dishes. Japchae cold sweet potato noodles were a faithful rendition of the Korean original, but there was little that was ‘sweet’ about it! The trademark flavour of sesame oil together with the firm, slippery noodles were delightful. Chunky raw mango salad with spicy sauce (Rs 295) turned out to be thinly sliced raw mango in an artistic presentation, even though it was listed under ‘highway-style appetizers’.
Plus and minus: Where I had bad luck on both visits was the main course. Hainanese chicken rice (Rs 595) was not even close to the Singaporean original and when I asked where the (mandatory) bowl of stock was, I got blank looks. In this day of Google and You Tube, that’s unforgivable. The pho noodle soup (vegetables/tofu or beef Rs 495/545) had not a trace of star anise in the stock. But for sheer fun dining and value for money, Ping’s is the way to go.
Must try: Wok-tossed morning glory; mango quinoa salad; coconut jaggery ice-cream
Food: 3.50; Service: 3.50; Décor: 3.50
13, Main Market, Lodhi Colony
Tel: +91 99994 47977
Open from 12.30 pm to 12 midnight
Alcohol; credit cards
Meal for two: Rs 1800