Good afternoon and happy Australia Day! What is very common amongst the Chinese hospitality population is that they all seem to ignore every Australian Public Holiday, but will close during Chinese New Year.
With no exception, this amazing new Malaysian/Chinese Restaurant was open in full force today for their amazing Yum Cha!
Now let me tell you, speaking for most of the Chinese Townsvillian Population, we have been yearning for proper Yum Cha. Over time there have been different restaurants who have either closed, or stopped serving Yum Cha just because of how difficult prep is. If there’s not enough business, it’s not worth doing home-made Yum Cha. For the past many years, it’s only been Benny’s Hot Wok Cafe and Bar that has been doing Yum Cha occasionally, but even then prices are far more than most Chinese would even dream of (seeing as how we can get good Yum Cha for ~$4-$5 a plate in bigger cities).
So you can imagine Hubby and my exhilaration when we chanced upon Ming’s when going to Domain Central. We had already eaten, but we had a look at the menu…and….
Basically ALL of my favourites on the menu!!! And they proudly advertise that EVERYTHING is homemade! Begone those dumpy “Yum Cha” restaurants that serve you frozen dumplings. Ming’s is the REAL deal!
Before I go into detail of the food we tried, here’s a short summary of the Restaurant:
It’s a very clean, modern-looking Chinese restaurant, fitted with a bar, asian-style (but not tacky) floral wall-paper and those big and round tables with lazy susans. Yep, walking into Ming’s is like walking straight into your typical modern Chinese restaurant. There’s also square tables suitable for couples or families of 4-6.
There’s an open kitchen where you can see piles of little bamboo steamers and your chefs at work – which just serves to make one more hungry and excited. The wait-staff are friendly and bring you to a table (generally of your choosing). There’s a lunch special menu ($12 for all main meals!) along with the yum cha and drinks menu. Drinks range from typical chinese teas, to cold juices to alcoholic beverages.
The vibe is clean, family-friendly, authentic and intricate. Gentle elevator-type music plays in the background and waiters are busy either bringing you your steamed morsels of delish, or taking empty steamers away. Unlike traditional yum cha, no trolleys are involved. Instead they bring the fresh dishes to you and cross off on your receipt the items you have received.
It’s in a good location – made obvious by how full it is despite little advertising and an impossible-to-find Facebook page. It’s in Domain Central, right next to Zambrero’s and across the road from the large Harvey Norman. Perfect location for a morning brunch/lunch after a busy household shopping day.
I confess that this is actually the second time now that hubby and I have been. We came a week ago with the in-laws who were also very excited and impressed. We ordered some of our favourites this time, and some new ones to try. What was lacking in today’s selection is the prawn and char siu cheong fun, which we found to be half the size of what we were used to, and had very little ingredients. The texture and taste of their cheong fun was pretty spot on, though. So if you’re a cheong fun fan, it’ll still quench those occasional cravings.
What is Yum Cha without the “Cha”? Unlike a lot of the traditional Yum Cha places I’ve tried, this tea pot THANKFULLY has a strainer, so no bitter tea leaves in my gulps of tea! No complaints about the Jasmine tea – a perfect accompaniment for Yum Cha. They also have Pu Er tea as another Chinese Tea option 🙂
We were a little disappointed when the Har Gao came out and there was only 3 (instead of 4 in the menu pic) on the plate. The Har gao skin was great but the prawn filling was just…prawn. Usually these dumplings have prawn paste as well as chunks of prawn. So definitely different and not the greatest of their dumplings.
Gou choi gao is one of my FAVOURITES, and although Ming’s variation has much more prawn meat than chives, it was still very, VERY delicious. And as hubby says – who can complain about more PRAWN vs chives? Worth the money, right? Although I personally prefer garlic chive overload in my dumplings, this was still pretty good.
I’ve never seen Coriander and Pork dumplings anywhere else and these are actually really good! It’s well minced pork and a good helping of coriander to give that fragrant taste. The pork, is cooked perfectly, minced so that it’s tender and juicy to bite into, and just the right seasoning. As with the previous two dumplings, the pastry is perfect.
Ming’s Grilled Turnip Cake has to be one of my favourites. Turnip Cake is actually quite a Singaporean/Malaysian dish and one of their other menu options is Fried Turnip Cake (Chai Tow Kuay), which is made just like how mum makes it at home – so of course loved it! The grilled variety is without the frying, eggs, chives, preserved vege and bean sprouts. In it’s nakedness with a little bit of chilli, it is really tasty. The grilling gives the great contrast of tender inside and crisp outside. There’s just the right amount of Lupcheong (chinese sausage) in the cake to give the savoury taste.
Fu pei guen is another of my favourites in Yum Cha. Traditionally it has a lot of mushroom and sauces, which Ming’s lacks. Ming’s variety is very porky (which Hubby really enjoyed), and to my disappointment is not as mushroomy or soup as I’d like. The beancurd wrapping however, is good, and the sauce is tasty and think as it should be.
Ming’s Siu Mai has to be one of our favourites. I have never seen Tobiko on Siu Mai before, but Hubby (and google) tell me that it’s actually a thing (have i been eating cheapo Siu Mai all this time?)! The shrimp and prawn mix is really tasty and juicy, without the bits of fat and cartilage that one quite often gets in these dumplings. The tobiko didn’t add much to the taste or texture for me – it was just cool to have it there! The pastry skin was also very silky and well-made.
Finally, the Fung Chao – chicken feet braised i chilli and black bean sauce. Just the AMOUNT of sauciness that came with it made me salivate! I love a good, slurpy chicken foot and the skin and cartilage of this one just pealed right off! So yes, chicken foot steamed very well. The sauce itself had the right amount of chilli for me (too much for Hubby), but was a slight bit too generous on the black bean side (that is, a bit too salty). That said, it was far tastier than a lot of other chicken feet I’ve tried, so well done to them!
Finally on to one of Hubby’s Favourites – the Taro dumpling stuffed with pork. The outside wasn’t as flaky as I’m used to, but still gave you the crunch as you bit into it to get to the gooey taro. The taro mash layer was great and the pork layer surprising. Usually the middle has some sauce and mushroom but this one was mainly minced meat with a bit of sauce. I really enjoyed it still (although did miss the mushrooms), but Hubby was disappointed.
My mum’s a Malaysian and makes some amazing Mee Goreng. Mee Goreng is a mamak (Malaysian Indian) dish that has the delicious balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour. This one lacked the sour as there was no lime/lemon in site. That said, the sweet, spicy and salty part of it was good and quite authentic. They were very generous with their ingredients of fish, squid, prawn and vegetables (they even had the sweet potato which super impressed me!). Hubby the carbohydrate king’s only complaint was that the noodles were “too floury and not springy enough”.
So there we have it! That was all Hubby and I could handle for lunch. We came out quite full and bellies very happy for the Yum Cha treat we had been craving in Townsville for so long 🙂 The fact that we could have so many Yum Cha dishes shows you that the portions weren’t amazing, so don’t expect a massive feed unless you’re willing to pay ~$50. This definitely isn’t the cheapest of lunches so it’ll be a once-in-awhile thing for us. The fact that most dumpling servings were odd-numbered also means dining with 1 or 3 other people (which most do on dates or with their families) makes sharing a little challenging.
So will we be back? Of COURSE! There’s still so many other dishes to try AND their dinner menu too! So expect more about Ming’s House (also, we need to support them because we want a Yum Cha place in Townsville PERMANENTLY).
Some of my comments about the dumplings were a little more on the harsh side but hey, they opened just this month! And overall the place has GREAT food. We’re EXTREMELY grateful for the owners opening this up in Townsville and they shall be getting a lot of business from us! Well done, Ming’s House!
In a Nutshell:
Value for money: 3/5