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The most popular table-tennis club in Austin, Tex., is concealed in a storage facility on the North Side of town. A secret code opens a gate, and then a different set of numbers gets you into the building. Walking down a dim hallway and up the stairs, you listen to the sharp, increasingly loud tick of chunk against paddle – a metronome run amok. Inside the bar, a royal blue area punctuated by grass green and blue tables, guys in baggy shorts, headbands and sweat-soaked T-shirts are operating in place, gluing sheets of rubber to paddles and whacking balls at one another." With golfing," said Rick Mueller, a 39-year-old dentist,"you only get to hit the ball once in a while. Here you hit balls all night."Â ping pong rackets internet [IMG2=JSON]{“data-align”:“none”,“data-size”:“custom”,“src”:“”}[/IMG2]

Stick around the bar long enough, and you’ll learn more than smashing serves. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of competitive Ping-Pong – and the greater than 240 table-tennis nightclubs cloistered in warehouses, senior centers, bingo parlors and gymnasiums throughout the nation – may be that it can lead a curious eater to his next favorite meal. I discovered from Lindsey Simon, a techie friend and enthusiastic Ping-Pong player who recently moved to San Francisco to work for Google." Lots of the guys I play with do not necessarily have a shared youth," Simon explained,“so after Ping-Pong, food is the most common language.”

For most of us, Ping-Pong is known as a pastime like air hockey, relegated into a (neglected) basement rec area, but out America, Ping-Pong is practically as popular as soccer. Many gamers in Austin come in areas like China, where they can reach rock-star standing, as well as in Southeast Asia, Japan and the Middle East.

“I have had some of the most intriguing and tasty meals of my life with those guys,” Mueller said, referring to his buddies and most common competitions: Tuan-Anh Tran, a 27-year-old engineer; Lifeng Liu, a 47-year-old engineer; and Tai Ly, a 34-year-old wholesale distributor of Asian food items.

The Austin club is across the road from Tam Deli and Cafe, an unassuming Vietnamese restaurant plus a handy stop for prepractice banh mi, sandwiches served on French rolls. There are barbecued-pork and pote types, but the shrimp-and-egg sandwich – steamed shrimp, hard-boiled egg, homemade lettuce, thinly sliced jalapenos, shredded lettuce, carrot and cilantro – has developed a next. Then word got out about the tender pork buns and leading shrimp and shredded yam cakes. Out-of-town tournaments also have led the players into a hot pot with freshwater heads in Houston and caramelized eggplant with garlic Chicago." I really like the eggplant dish so much that I heard to say it in Chinese, chiet-ze-bao," said Simon, who found a local version at Asia Cafe.

As a mysterious menu doesn’t necessarily express the flavors that a dish delivers, the match of Ping-Pong isn’t readily translated into the uninformed spectator." The biggest misconception about Ping-Pong is that it is a nonathletic game, even in the class of tiddlywinks," stated Marty Reisman, who is 77 and says he retains 23 national names." The classical game requires a player be trained as an Olympic athlete." But because the sport relies on the capability to read the spin of the ball up to on physical prowess, it tends to be a great equalizer." Remember when that guy got beat by the old man with Coke-bottle glasses tied to his head by shoelaces?" Mueller requested friends during a clinic break. Tom Flesh man, a 46-year-old appliance repairman, nodded emphatically. " I have creamed by an 13-year-old Chinese girl," he said.

But the revenge-of-the-nerds game is poised for a makeover with the latest launch of"Balls of Fury," a movie inspired by Jan Waldner, the Swedish participant who came to be called the Michael Jordan of Ping-Pong. To Find out More about the match, the director Robert Ben Garant and the producer Thomas Lennon (who also wrote the film together) hung out in a club in the Korea town district of South Los Angeles." You know how in Jackie Chan movies you will find those scenes when the new individual walks into a pub, and all the heads turn?" Garant asks" That’s what happened to us. It was the exact same vibe as these badass’70s martial-art films" After a while, the filmmakers often followed the players into a local Korean barbecue restaurant" There was this Unbelievable salad of sliced octopus at a spicy kimchee-like dressing, and sweet soju, a Korean soul that pretty much tastes like moonshine," Garant States." The combination was terrific."

On a recent Wednesday evening following practice, the Austin players transformed into fresh T-shirts and headed to Din Ho, a Chinese barbecue restaurant. In between bites of omelet, sauteed snow-pea leaves, hot beef with green onions and succulent shrimp and shrimp won tons, they joked about the limited financial opportunities of the game (first prize at a tournament may mean less than $100)." On the upside, it’s not hard to take classes from a national winner," Mueller said." Can you imagine that in tennis? Can you imagine saying:‘Hey, Martina, will you play with me for an hour? I will give you 50 bucks.’"Â Click here

Even if the winnings won’t make the players rich, chances are there will always be a good meal round the corner.

Eggplant With Garlic Sauce

18 ounce Chinese eggplant (about 3 small), cut into 1/8-inch chunks


1 tbsp soy sauce

1Â*1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp minced garlic

1Â*1/2 teaspoons fermented soybean paste

1 teaspoon hot chili paste

2 tablespoons peanut oil

6 ounces ground pork

Hot steamed rice (optional).

  1. Place the eggplant in a large bowl. Sprinkle all over with salt and toss. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves. Stir in * cup water, the garlic and the soybean and chili pastes.

  3. In a large wok or saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil on high heat. After the oil just begins to smoke, then add the pork, season with salt and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.

  4. Dab eggplant dry with paper towels. In the wok, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium high until it just begins to smoke. Add the eggplant, and saute until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the soy-sauce mix. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. When the sauce thickens, add the pork and * cup water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a lively simmer until the sauce thickens and the eggplant is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring periodically. Season to taste with salt. In the event you select, serve with rice. Serves 3 to 4. Adapted from Asia Cafe in Austin, Tex… [IMG2=JSON]{“data-align”:“none”,“data-size”:“custom”,“src”:“”}[/IMG2]

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp, plus 1/4 teaspoon, sugar

3 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

12 ounce flap beef, cut to 1-inch chunks

1/4 tsp black pepper


2 tbsp lime juice

Leaf lettuces, for garnish

Thinly sliced onion, for garnish

Sliced tomatoes, for instance

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 tbsp butter.

  1. In a medium bowl combine the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce and stir till the sugar dissolves. Toss from the beef. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Make the lime-pepper skillet by combining the remaining 1/4 tsp sugar black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lime juice and 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Taste and add more water if the sauce is too sour. Set aside.

  3. Get a serving plate by covering it with a generous coating of leaf lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Season the tomatoes with salt.

  4. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat until the oil smokes slightly. Add the butter, and stir just until the butter melts. Add the beef, and stir in a circular movement. Gently use the back of a metal spatula to press the meat from the sides of the wok to char. Cook until the meat is browned but still lightly pink in the center, about 7 minutes. (Avoid having the meat simply boil in the liquid fat) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the ready. Best Professional Ping Pong Paddle - PingPongStart

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