In Western countries, Chinese food is frequently associated with the famous white, trapezoidal take-out boxes and fortune cookies. In Asia, people eat their dim sum with roast pork served on white tabletops alongside a cup of Chinese tea.
But even Chinese food must evolve to keep up with the changing culinary world. For Ming restaurant, this means transforming into an eatery with a different concept: “Dine and Chill.”
Having served TungLok Group’s signature dishes for 17 years, Ming is relocating to a spacious venue at Epiwalk Rasuna Epicentrum in South Jakarta. The new digs boast an elegant, contemporary decor, with tree-shaped panels towering above the luxurious sofas and large bar.
“The new Ming Dine and Chill wants to provide a contemporary atmosphere without ignoring the specific Chinese traditional cultural heritage of Canton,” said Andrew Tjioe, executive chairman of the TungLok Group.
Ming takes the greatest pride in two traditional dishes: Emperor’s Chicken, also known as Beggar’s Chicken, and the salt-baked abalone.
Making the chicken takes a while, but the scent of two hours worth of marinated goodness from soaking in Chinese Hua Diao wine makes it worthwhile.
The meat is deboned, then stuffed with stir-fried bamboo shoots, two types of mushrooms, shredded roast duck and wine. After that it’s wrapped in lotus leaves, parchment paper and clay for cooking.
The dish also comes with a story. There was once a beggar who had nothing but mud for cooking. Legend has it that the scent of the chicken he was making caught the attention of a passing imperial court official. The dish has since become popular for its fragrance and succulence.
At Ming, Hong Kong-born chef Li Man unfolded layer after layer of wrappings enclosing the chicken, and people walking past the restaurant were able to catch the aroma. For some, though, it might be too much hassle for some “chill” dim sum time.
Next on the menu is Ming’s salt-baked abalone. If this were an action movie, the abalone would be the climax where the hero cooly walks out of a building that’s blowing up in the background. After all, abalone is known as the “champion of the seas.” No wonder Ming charges more than Rp 900,000 ($95) per dish.
The abalone is braised in a special stock, wrapped in lotus leaf and kelp, covered with Japanese salt and baked. For a little bit of added drama (you’re paying $95, after all), chef Li put on some gloves and literally threw flames onto the coconut-shaped parcel. Making the dish can take eight hours.
Watching the fire show and seeing how the parcel is broken with a small hammer upon serving is sure to entertain. The real question is whether you’ll be patient enough to wait out the process.
Ming has other tricks up its sleeve. The restaurant makes somewhat of an usual decision by pairing Chinese food with wine. Rose, the red wine Ming serves, is a perfect complement to the har gow (sh rimp dumpling), as it brings out the sweetness. A sip of sauvignon blanc, meanwhile, highlights vegetable tastes.
With so many ingredients and such unusual combinations, Ming’s comeback stands a chance of grabbing the attention of foodies who have had enough of the regular Chinese food.
Ming Dine and Chill
Epicentrum Walk, Rasuna Epicentrum
Jl. HR Rasuna Said, Kuningan, South Jakarta
Tel. 021 2991 2323