Young and Hungry

Chefs Veg Out: Darren Wightman of Ping Pong Dim Sum

Short ribs and baby octopus may dominate many menus in the city, but that doesn't mean local chefs can't find love in an acorn squash. In our ongoing seriesChefs Veg Out, we'll prove D.C.’s chefs can play with more than just meat.

  • Name: Darren Wightman
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Ping Pong Dim Sum
  • Cooking Since: 29 years ago, cooking in Australia (where he's from), Hong Kong, Bali, Greece, Dubai, Paris, and Los Angeles.
  • Random Fact: "I was a fullback playing Aussie Rules Football in high school. We were legends."
  • Favorite Vegetable: Chinese vegetable daunew, snow peas shoots. "I fell in love with them in Hong Kong. I quickly blanch them in boiling salted water, then throw them in a wok with smashed ginger, chopped garlic and oyster sauce."
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Cauliflower. "I loathe the smell of it being boiled. It's probably from having it poorly cooked when I was a kid."
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: Balinese vegetable curry. "It's almost like a staff meal. It's from my time at Intercontinental Hotels Group. It's a turmeric base with curry, coriander, lime, lime leaf, peanuts, sauteed smoked curry paste, blue ginger (galangal), smashed up lemongrass, aubergine, potatoes, beans, tomato, and broccoli. We served it with rice steamed in a banana leaf. There was nothing refined about it at all, just fantastic flavor and so cheap."
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Ping Pong: Spicy vegetable dumpling. "It's fresh and clean. There's shiitake, water chestnuts, glass noodles, lots of cilantro and red jalepeño. We serve it with a fresh red chili sauce with a little crushed yellow bean and seaseme oil. It's a textbook Chinese master sauce."
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: Pencil asparagus. "Quickly blanched and grilled with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sea salt and ground black pepper. It's so simple, so quick and tastes amazing and can be eaten warm or cold."

Photo courtesy of Ping Pong Dim Sum

  • Noah

    While I support Ping Pong Dim Sum for their vege lists, Their vege options on the Happy Hour menu are appalling. Last time I went I inquired if we could substitute a equal/lesser cost vege item (due to their poor selection) on the happy hour menu and was informed by waiter via management that they would not.

    Because of this I will not partake in Happy Hour there again, nor am I likely to recommend it.

  • anon

    That Balinese vegetable curry sounds really good -- much better than any veggie options on PPDS menu. Why not add that to your menu?

  • muckraker

    I am a veg and really like the options at Ping Pong. I thought they were yummy on all the visits I had there. And the honey cardamom lemonade is delish.

  • Gary Sweetman

    Hi looking to contact the above chef Darren Whiteman can anybody help me please?