MING ROOM, Adelaide
Funnily enough, I do love Chinese food, in fact I could eat it every day! Perhaps it’s because I’m Chinese? So I was excited at the prospect of trying out Adelaide’s Ming Room in Angas Street (formerly Beijing Chinese Restaurant), right near the Arts Theatre. Ming Room’s website boasts Chinese cuisine based on the freshest local produce, a hint of imported herbs and spices, and a ‘western touch to feed your cravings.’ That last bit scared me a little as the western food I’ve had in China has been just downright awful!
The first positive – in the evening there are heaps of parking spaces on Angas Street right outside the restaurant, and being 6pm, I had my choice of parks. I walked into a nice looking place – a lot of red, and quite brightly lit. There are comfy chairs, black tablecloths, Chinese characters painted on the wall and warrior statues. They’ve created a little bit of an entrance hall effect by hanging a floor to ceiling bronze metallic curtain to the left. Given the semi-formal entrance, I was surprised to be greeted by a young man in a pale grey fleecy top and jeans. As he walked towards me I thought perhaps he was a customer, or one of the back-room staff. And there was another staff member walking around in a hoodie. A shirt and trousers would project a much more professional image, particularly as the waitresses were in the proper Ming Room black shirts.
This evening I’m dining with my ‘fussy friend’ who can be a little hard to please when it comes to food and dining experiences, so I’m interested to see what her thoughts are of both the ambience and the food.
The menu itself looks a little ‘cafeteria’ – white writing on black background, and food photos at the bottom of the pages. With some ‘interesting’ combinations such as fried prawns with diced fruits and a sweet salad dressing, and Asian greens stir fried pineapple, I’m starting to get a little scared! Anyway, we peruse a little longer and there are some really good sounding dishes.
We start with the Ocean Dragon Seafood Soup – Asian style with prawns, squid and scallops, accompanied by grilled Chinese style bread. I’m pleased to say, the soup was delicious. Nice and thick, with plenty of seafood and a kick of ginger, and great on a cold night. However, the bread was nothing more than a few croutons on the side and a bit unnecessary. But, off to a good start. We decide to order a few mains to share.
The Flying Dragon Prawns arrive – prawns stir-fried with chillies, garlic and a homemade black pepper sauce served on a sizzling plate. They look and smell really good and they are super tasty! The sauce is nicely spicy with all that pepper – a bit of a taste sensation.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Ming Room Cola Chicken – it’s chicken thigh fillet marinated with cola. When it arrived it looked and tasted a lot like teriyaki chicken but the cola makes the meat so beautifully tender. I really enjoyed this dish. Lots of flavour and silky smooth chicken.
We were also happy with the Siamese Crispy Pork – fried thinly sliced pork belly stir fried with garlic. Light and tasty and slightly sweet – you just want to keep eating more.
And, because we thought we needed some greens, we ordered the Buddha’s Delight – braised Chinese mushrooms with bok choy, and this more mildly flavoured dish was a good contrast to the others.
For dessert, it was the Golden Banana Fritters – honey glazed banana coated with batter and sesame seeds served with ice cream. My dining partner says that these are up there with the best banana fritters she’s ever had – and she’s had a few in her time! Crispy batter and good quality ice cream. She enjoyed every mouthful.
The service needs some improvement – for example I brought a bottle of wine in and had it sitting on the table, and waited some time before I had to ask for wine glasses. Also, we were given our menus and about sixty seconds after that, even before we’d had a chance to open them, we were asked if we were ready to order (something that also happened with the people who were sitting at the table next to us).
All up though, we were really happy with our food. The dishes were full of flavour and well presented – and they’re not padded out with lots of onion. Corkage for BYO wine is only $10 per bottle, which is a bargain, and it’s on the Entertainment Card. I would definitely eat here again.