When prompted to encapsulate Ping Pong’s vibe in broad terms, Yianni Passaris likens it to a suit. We’re not talking a tuxedo with tails or a high-powered, padded-shoulder corporate ensemble, rather an option that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion – versatile and comfortable, but fashionable. Aiming for an approachable mid-tier appeal, Yianni is positioning Ping Pong as a reliable option for Brisbane’s hungry multitudes – think lycra-clad light-lunch hunters and dressed-up dinner seekers alike. Yianni also describes Ping Pong as fun, and on first inspection it’s easy to see why. Over the past few months, Yianni and his team have been putting the finishing touches on Ping Pong’s home at Gasworks Plaza (the former site of Chinese eatery Peng You), removing all traces of the tenancy’s former life and giving it a Alexander Lotersztain-designed makeover. The resulting aesthetic is as vibrant and singular as you’re likely to see in Brisbane – something that boasts a definitive wow-factor without relying on one-note (or one-colour) gimmicks. Yes, Ping Pong is predominantly pink, but the 110-seater venue boasts a collection of purpose-built moments that alter one’s experience based on their vantage point. Outside the venue sit three pink picnic tables, which allow for breezy group dining removed from the bold interior. Once over the threshold, guests can elect to either perch at the bar or pick a spot along the pink-leather banquette that stretches from the neon-lit entrance to the rear. Both the bar top and Ping Pong’s tables are wrought from recycled plastic – an eye-catching colour-speckled material that helps to break up Ping Pong’s vivid palette. Hanging above everyone’s heads is a sea of floating ping-pong balls. The impressive light fixture extends the length of the venue, totalling 300 individual balls that change hue at the touch of the button, transforming Ping Pong from a casual eatery to a happening party locale as the mood dictates. Tucked away out of sight is a hidden oasis, the details of which we’ve been sworn to secrecy on (for now), but can confirm that it’s a striking conceptual pivot from Ping Pong’s established vibe.
Culinarily speaking, Thai cuisine sits at the heart of Ping Pong’s offering. Overseeing the fare is Ping Pong’s co-owner and head chef Khanittha ‘Bowyo’ Muangsong, who has taken the ideas she previously toyed with for Morning After’s Thai-influenced offering and elevated them further for Ping Pong’s street-food inspired menu. Although boasting a grounded authenticity at its core, the fare is also couched in the same sort of fun multi-sensory approach that informs Ping Pong’s aesthetic. Put simply, this is social food – the kind that works best when shared and discussed. Dipping into her own Thai heritage (and fresh off a pre-pandemic trip home for research), Bowyo has assembled an ensemble of dishes that traverses snacks, raw dishes, greens and salads, meat and stir-fry dishes, and curries. Small bites such as betel-leaf wraps and corn fritters served in lettuce cups with chilli jam segue into substantial plates including Bowyo’s famed beef-cheek massaman curry (a side of flaky roti is a must), lamb-neck rendang, wild-caught-prawn curry, sticky beef short ribs and whole fried reef fish, while carnivorous types can sink their incisors into sliced grass-fed beef OP rib, cooked over charcoal on newly installed hibachi grills and served with keffir lime and chilli aromats. Complementing the fare is a beverage selection that spans tap beer, wines and cocktails. Ping Pong’s wine list will feature a collection of old-school and new-wave wines from Australia, France and Italy, with classics such as sauvignon blanc and shiraz joined by contemporary drops such as nebbiolo, Gamay beaujolais and pétillant naturel. A short cocktail list will include Ping Pong signatures (classics are available upon request), as well as boozy Thai-inspired slushies like think keffir-lime-infused margarita concoctions.
Ping Pong will officially open to the public on Friday August 7. For more information, head to the Stumble Guide.