Sai Ying Pun is THE place to be right now. It seems as thought this up and coming neighbourhood has a restaurant or bar opening every weekend. Right between Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town, you can find Second Street which is filled with small local cha chaan tengs, repair stores and old walk ups. Tucked away on 129 Second Street, you will find a small red door with the words “Ping Pong City” inscribed in Chinese. Here lies the ever popular Ping Pong 129 Gintonería.
This old ping pong supply store has been transformed and updated to an amazing Spanish gin and tonic bar. From the moment you walk through the iconic red doors, down the concrete steps with the green handrail and into the large open “living room”, you are welcomed with Hong Kong nostalgia with influences from the Mediterranean.
The entire decor is a nod to local designers and artists who have contributed to the unique aesthetic that makes Ping Pong truly stand out. From the beautiful recreated Hong Kong aluminium window grills by Nadim Abbas, to an original King of Kowloon calligraphy piece and the cheeky and colourful artwork of Chen Fei playing ping pong. Everything about this place is inviting, with the old and new vibe juxtaposed. It’s the perfect place to hang with your best mates, girlfriends and all the Hong Kong hipsters!
My friend and I were given an in-depth education on the variety of speciality gins offered here by co-owner Juan. Hailing from Spain, Juan was inspired by the gintonería (gin and tonic) craze happening and decided to bring it to Hong Kong.
For any gin lover, Ping Pong has one of the most comprehensive list of gins from all over the world, namely, Spain. From the classic Martin Millers to the premium gins like Gin Self from Valencia, there is no shortage of selection for any gin fanatic. In fact, their menu is currently being updated with rare and premium gins that are new to the Hong Kong market and exclusive to PP129.
We tried several that evening from a variety of different gin, tonic and aromatic garnishes. To highlight our favourite combinations we’ve chosen our top 3 crowd pleasers:
- Martin Millers with Fever-Tree tonic with a lemon twist and juniper berries. A Spanish classic, with a deep aromatic gin flavour accompanied by sweet juniper berries.
- Farmer’s Organic Gin with Q tonic and lemongrass garnish. The combination between the organic gin, tonic and lemongrass is heavenly. This is a must try in our books!
- G’Vine Floraison gin with the Japanese Wilkinson tonic and grapes. A sweet and lighter combination that is smooth and easy to drink. This one will have you asking for seconds and thirds!
The G & T’s are served in specialty glassware goblets that were hand picked and flown from Spain. The goblets or balloon shaped glasses were purposely chosen as a way to enhance and release the aromatics in the gin, and the tall stem of the glass is to help prevent the warmth of your hands changing the content of the drink. Your gin and tonic is served with a large block of ice to keep the drink cold, as how every G & T should be served in our opinion!
If you’re feeling moreish, there are some classic Spanish tapas to go with your drinks; from rosemary crusted manchego cheese to the classic roasted Padrón peppers. We sampled a selection of their cured meats and Iberico cold cuts as well as the delicious mushroom and ham croquettes and the patatas bravas (roast potatoes) in a spicy tomato sauce.
Ping Pong 129 Gintonería is wonderfully charming, with its unassuming exterior and well thought out design and menu. It’s the perfect addition to this up and coming neighbourhood and we definitely recommend you check it out if you’re looking for an afterwork drink in a special location!
Ping Pong 129 Gintonería, 129 Second Street, Nam Cheong Hse, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, www.pingpong129.com. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm onwards.