I parent a male toddler, which means I would bash down a door for a chance to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant in one of Hong Kong’s trendiest hotels. Which is exactly what happened when hubby and I were invited to date night at the Langham Place Hotel’s elegant Ming Court, except it was hubby literally smashing down the door like The Incredible Hulk to get us there (so chivalrous).
Ok, what just happened, you ask? Basically, we were all dollied up for our Ming Court date (translation: we actually weren’t in sweat pants), when our lovely helper became stuck on our roof. The door had completely jammed, and rather than wait forever for a locksmith (because Ming Court isn’t open forever), my husband literally smashed through the door like Bruce Willis, politely inviting the helper back inside while we set off for the restaurant like nothing had happened. Are we on crack, you’re wondering? Nah, it’s just that, when you have a drunk toddler at home (okay, not really drunk, but they sure act drunk), not even a locked door is going to stand in the way of some romantic ‘us’ time. (The sad end to that story is that, despite hubby’s heroic efforts, we never did make it to Ming Court that night due to protest traffic blockages, but we cried a bit and then rebooked for the following week.)
Just tell me about the food! I hear you shout. Don’t worry – I’m about to, and you better have an umbrella handy, because I’m going to gush.
If you don’t already know the Langham Place Hotel, it means that you’ve never been inside its chic and artistic walls, or to one of its top restaurants, or to its amazing spa (one of the best in Hong Kong) – *holds hand against your forehead*. The funky five-star hotel is the place to stay in Mong Kok, is next to one of the best shopping malls in the city, and has a really cool edge to it, while still being classy and luxurious.
Its beautiful Chinese restaurant Ming Court is on the sixth floor, and reminded me of the hotel’s delicious Chuan Spa as soon as I walked in. Authentically Chinese but with a chic, contemporary twist, Ming Court’s modern décor echoes a traditional Chinese restaurant but without the bright lights, noisy business, and occasionally surly wait staff. There are two distinct dining areas (Ming Sun and Ming Moon), and we sat in the larger banquet-style room, decorated with gorgeous Ming Dynasty pottery replicas and dark, chocolatey furnishings punctuated with light tones and bright artworks by contemporary Chinese artists.
But you don’t really come to Ming Court for the setting, as lovely as it is. This place has already won one food Oscar (I meant to say Michelin star) and deserves more. After eating out in Hong Kong more times than I can afford, I truly don’t think I’ve ever had a Chinese meal this delicious, anywhere. BOOM. New taste record to beat.
We were treated to a divine six-course degustation menu, with the polite and attentive staff not only explaining every dish, but also suggesting what order to devour things in. (Attention to detail, people, it’s a thing here.)
After being poured refreshing Veuve Clicquot champagne, the first dish to arrive was the Ming Court amuse bouche (pictured above), comprised of chilled silk tofu drizzled with Italian black truffle and painted with gold leaf. (Yes, gold is edible and tastes awesome.) I’m not even a big truffle fan, but this was truly one of the yummiest appetisers I’d ever tasted – even becoming one of my top-three dishes of the night with its soft, silky texture and stunning presentation.
But what followed was my first favourite dish of the night – the Ming Court signature dim sum. I’ve had Shanghainese pork dumplings at every dim sum place from here to Shanghai, but this was by far the best I’ve tasted anywhere: the pastry was perfectly shaped, the inside liquid didn’t burn my tongue, and the pork was rich in flavour. The platter also included a steamed drunken shrimp dumpling cooked in Chinese wine (nom), and a pan-fried mushroom bun. And here’s the kicker: I don’t actually eat mushrooms. I didn’t tell the restaurant this because I’m not allergic (just high maintenance), but I inhaled this bun like a vacuum. It was soft and sweet and not mushroomy-tasting at all (that’s a technical term) – in fact, I’d order it again by choice, which would make everyone who knows me breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Next up was a pretty teapot of chicken consommé (a dish I’m already partial to because it’s one of my mother’s favourites), infused with matsutake mushroom and bamboo pith. (I’d made up with mushrooms by that point, by the way – we were happily married and on our honeymoon.)
Moving on to the meatier courses, it was time to swap the Vueve with Koegler dry Riesling from Germany, perfectly chosen by the sommelier. It was time for my shellfish-loving hubby’s favourite dish of the evening, the prawn ensemble, which encompassed a large tiger prawn fried with leeks and spring onion, a tiger prawn steamed in vermicelli and Shao Xing wine, and a rice crisp steamed with shiitake mushroom and shrimp consommé. The fresh prawns were firm yet tender, and it was easy to understand why this mouth-watering dish earned the Silver prize at the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Best of the Best Culinary Awards 2014.
Speaking of awards, the showstopper that followed picked up the Gold with Distinction accolade at the same awards. Praise. This was the wagyu beef, foie gras and fried rice sizzler, which was a hot pan of fried rice blended with melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef that my mouth is still pining over. I never go to a Chinese restaurant without ordering fried rice, but this was no side dish, and was an absolute stand-out in terms of flavour.
But, finally, my second favourite dish of the night was ready for its close-up. Even though I’m not a dessert person, the chocolate sago pudding with baked ice cream and Belgian chocolate was to die for. I might even be typing this from heaven. And I don’t even like sago (lol, there’s a lot I don’t like, I’ve discovered), but Ming Court was seemingly curing all my food phobias, one dish at a time. The warm sago pudding with the liquid chocolate centre was so perfectly paired with the cold ice cream that it still makes me drool to think about. Please don’t leave Ming Court without ordering this dessert, or I may need to question your priorities.
As we sat back and sipped our premium Chinese aged ‘pu er’ tea digestif, hubby and I pondered who the head chef at Ming Court might be, and how we could become his or her best friend. (Yes, we were so impressed with the food, we literally talked about it all night like two posh foodies.) Incidentally, the executive chef at Ming Court is Chef Mango Tsang Chiu Lit, a celebrated restaurant chef with over 40 years experience, who took over from his younger brother in the role in 2013.
Ming Court is certainly a beautiful modern Chinese restaurant in one of the loveliest hotels in Kowloon, but what stands out most among its many charms is the quality of its cuisine. You don’t get a Michelin star for serving anything less than flawless, and that’s what you’ll taste at Ming Court. You might even discover that there’s no such thing as a food you don’t like when it’s cooked by the right hands. Chef Mango? Call me. Bring the mushrooms.
The Ming Court degustation menu is available for $788 / person (plus $388 / person for 3 wine pairings). For reservations, call 3552 3028 or email [email protected]. Ming Court is open for lunch from 11am-2:30pm (11am-3pm on Sundays and public holidays) and from 6-10:30pm for dinner daily.
Ming Court, Level 6, Langham Place Hotel, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3552 3028