Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Michelin Starred Ming Court at the Langham Mongkok

I'm slowly finding my way around Hong Kong and while I don't know it as well as SC, I was pretty happy that I made my way across to a presentation gig at the Langham Place Hotel in Mongkok solo.  Ha, if you know Hong Kong, you're probably thinking that it's so easy to get to Mongkok from Central, and you're right.  However, throw in a few million people all trying to get around at the same time, along with being naturally clueless when it comes to public transport and general directions, well, let's just say I was pretty happy I was able to find it.

As I made my way to the presentation area, which was at the Langham Place Hotel, I noticed that one of the lifts went to the Hotel restaurant, the Ming Court.  A flood of memories hit me when I realised that I was standing only a lift ride away from a restaurant that my mate the Big Boy had been banging on about for the longest time.  In fact, each time he talks about Hong Kong or coming to visit, the Ming Court features heavily in the conversation.  Normally just nod and then look for somewhere else to go, but since I'd found the place I made a note to get back that very weekend with SC for a visit.

It's pretty unbelievable how lucky we've been when going to restaurants here in HK, we've almost never made a reservation and pretty much always find a seat.  We tried our luck again around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon..  Rocking up to the restaurant, we were greeted warmly, in fact far more warmly than any other restaurant in Hong Kong.  

'No reservation sir? Let me see what we can do for you!'

We were really lucky, a couple who'd booked a table hadn't shown up and we were gifted their table.  Our super friendly maitre'd showed us to a huge  table that could have seated six, or even eight but was set out for just two, so SC and I were miles apart but with plenty of real estate around us spare.  While we were looking over the menu, maitre'd ran through the tea options but throwing 'caution to the wind', we let him decide and received a beautiful flavoured white peony tea, which had notes of rose and grew more flavoursome as it settled.

Being a well known Michelin Starred restaurant, there were many, many great looking options available on the menu, including a number of set menus that were reasonably priced as well as looking entirely appetising...  However, being lunch time, we'd decided to run through the dim sum list, which was equally appetising.  I also wanted dim sum because they are awesome!!

We expected the food to come out thick and fast, which seems the be the way it works when taking the lunchtime dim sum option.  Out at the same time were the steamed rice pasta rolls with fresh shrimp and chives as well as the barbecued pork with honey steamed rice pasta rolls.  Each of the dishes came with three rolls, which could have caused problems if we'd not immediately gravitated towards different flavours.

My favourite was the fresh prawns, which for me seemed to work better with the steamed rice pasta rolls.  Each roll was filled with a couple of prawns that complimented the soy sauce well. They were tasty, but the balance of prawn to pasta roll was a bit out and over time was a bit gluggy.  I think an extra prawn would have been the go...

SC on the other hand, much preferred the barbecued pork with honey, which admittedly had a better balance of filling to pasta roll.  They were incredibly difficult to eat though, especially for SC, who has moderate (being generous here) chopstick skills.  I had to help move the rolls to her dining plate, otherwise it would have taken quite some time to eat.

Shrimp crisp roll in the spring, or as we'd say in our Aussie twang, prawn spring rolls.  They were tiny and then cut in half.  I'm tolerant of typical vegetarian spring rolls, at best, but quite like duck spring rolls, when done well.  Yup, I have to say that I'm now a fan of prawn spring rolls, especially the Ming Court version, which had a light golden brown (and very crispy) coating and each stuffed with a  wonderfully fresh prawn.

Our next dumpling set looked incredible, but was perhaps my least favourite...  The steamed crab meat dumpling with with egg white and truffle sounded like a dream when we were ordering it, but it proved to be a bit too rich.  The crab meat and egg white were nice, but I found the gelatinous dumplings to be a bit sticky and the filling just not to my liking.  SC did enjoy them more than I did, but even she struggled through the third one.

My favourite dumplings so far in Hong Kong (well, second favourite after xaiolongbao) have to be steamed pork dumplings with whole shrimp, the fact that we had some crab roe added with the Ming Court version reinforced my view.  There is just something special about the combination of prawn and pork, and visually, they always set my heart aflutter!  Looking beautiful in their bamboo steamer home, I couldn't wait to dig in - the fact that SC didn't really want any was a bonus!

Our last dumpling set was possibly the most indulgent and most certainly SC's favourite.  The pan fried pork and foie gras dumpling came gyoza style and were rich.  Very rich in fact, as only good foie gras can be, sweet and delicate on the palate with a soft texture that just feels indulgent in your mouth.  Before long, they were gone and we were contemplating whether another round would be in order....

Thankfully, sanity prevailed.  Our full bellies told us that to order another round would be folly, it would be a waste and we'd possibly just make ourselves sick...  Interestingly, our waiter seemed to think that our dumpling feast was just the beginning and seemed surprised when we asked for our bill.

There was a lot to like about our Ming Court visit, the service was superb - friendly and casual but retaining a professional air that suited the surroundings.  The restaurant itself was massive, seating around 260 people at any one time.  We loved the blend of the traditional Chinese setting with the modern building and decorations.  There was little doubt that we were in a fine Hotel and a Michelin Starred restaurant.

Our mate the Big Boy had always been impressed with the quality of the food and the fact that it didn't break the bank.  Sure, there were much more expensive options on the menu, but doing the lunchtime dim sum menu was definitely the way to go.  I think the next time the Big Boy comes to town, we'll stop ignoring his requests for a dinner at the Ming Court - a great meal like that is surely best consumed with friends, right?


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