Deep-fried eel skin
What I thought would be a typical Chinese surrounding of loud yum sengs and Hokkien pop tunes turned out to be a lavish dinner, complete with Victorian-like chairs and chandelier instead. We had the best table that night, all thanks to one Mr. Chen who made a reservation earlier. I was also informed by fellow diners that the restaurant is a favourite of the current prime minister of Singapore. The table next to ours was reserved for a certain Datuk whom we, the commoners, were eager to see. He was late though, and I assumed that it was due to the crawl at the Johor checkpoint.
All the glitz aside, what I really remembered were the impeccable dishes. Here, in this Chinese restaurant, the emphasis is not on a lengthy menu or designing names of dishes that promise a thousand years of fortune and prosperity...but more of what really matters - fresh “live” seafood, flavourful ingredients and signatures that make customers come back for more. After a few days, we were still talking about some of the outstanding dishes. Let me just say that despite the impressive clientele, service here was equally attentive to all and prices were reasonable too.
They seem to enjoy using garlic here. Be it minced and buttered as a topping for the steamed gigantic bamboo clams or fried and drizzled onto the flower shell clams, every dish screamed for a bowl of white rice. I was told that customers flock here for the dish that’s synonymous with Ming Kee – crab beehoon. The first bite was not much of a tease and some might even find it bland. I call it subtle. With each subsequent slurp, the umami taste progressively unraveled as opposed to MSG-laden type that hits the tastebuds in an instance, leaving the taster screaming for a glass of water. What really did it for me was the fact that they used yellow garlic chive, which is considered a novelty among Chinese restaurants, simply because of the price. Well, it’s still very much cheaper that white winter truffles, of course. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and that lingering, pungent, almost mushroom-y taste is really appetizing. And there was the unfamiliar smoked duck that found itself pairing nicely with a syrupy Guinness stout sauce dressed pork ribs. I would gladly have the duck with some lettuce, mustard and wholemeal bread for breakfast. For the past few months, I lamented on the scarcity of good orh nee (yam paste) after being disappointed by one restaurant’s version after another. That night, I had a good one. Mildly sweet and adequately salty, it was well executed. And how thoughtful of them to perfume the dessert with some fried onion oil! I really liked it.
What’s more fun than incessant talks of food with fellow foodies, only to be interrupted by the serving of some really delectable dishes, may I ask?
Flower shell clams
Relatively larger than the usual type
Best eaten with the flesh
Steamed bamboo clams with buttered garlic
Vegetable with tofu
Smoked duck breast
MING KEE LIVE SEAFOOD
556 Macpherson Road
Tel: (+65) 6747 4075
Check out Camemberu’s post for all the dishes we had that night and links to other foodie friends whom were equally satisfied with the food at Ming Kee that night. Thanks for making the reservation and the wine, Mr. Chen.