This is not an invited review. 🙂
This was a gathering of friends, who came to feast on excellent food, great wine (courtesy of 陈先生), and unspoken camaraderie in the company of passionate foodies.
First dish, a starter of fried fish skin, recommended by the 老板娘 [lady boss]. Made from the skin of eel, which, in its raw state might cause squeamishness among some.
True to the no-parts-go-to-waste spirit of Chinese chefs, said eel skin was transformed into paper-thin, light-as-air, slightly salted, and oil-free crisps. Dip into the accompanying soy dip to enjoy. Impressive, but not something on my must-have list.
To do justice to supremely fresh seafood, steaming is the method to go. This explains why the next 3 dishes are steamed.
Based on previous reviews, we wanted to try their highly acclaimed steamed mussels. But the lady boss cajoled us into trying the sweet clams instead. “Trust me, sweet clams are just as good, if not better than, mussels.”
She was right. The sweet clams had much sweeter and tenderer meat than the green-lipped mussels of my memory. And I couldn’t get enough of that gorgeous soy sauce gravy imbued with fragrant fried garlic. It’s perfect for drenching over fluffy steamed rice.
I had reservations about bamboo clam, as my last experience with it was that of chewing rubber. Ay, most unfortunate! It wasn’t cheap either.
But Ming Kee has completely transformed my negative impression into a beautiful one. In the hands of a master, bamboo clam is incredibly sweet, succulent, and crunchy. In short: Insanely delicious!
And there was no need to worry about stinky breath from the blanket of crushed garlic. How did they get garlic to taste so sweet without its characteristic pungency?
At 10 bucks a pop, bamboo clam is no austere bivalve mollusk, but it was absolutely worth it.
The Hong Kong-style steamed soon hock was very good indeed. Very fresh, smooth flesh, perfect cooking time, and no muddy taste.
We thought the three steamed dishes would be a one-note affair, but the chef surprised us with different sauces for each dish. Each pairing was a marriage made in heaven; the seasonings complemented the seafood beautifully without overpowering its natural sweetness.
The piece de resistance: Crab bee hoon. This is what we came for. And it didn’t disappoint.
The table fell silent as everyone worked on the jumbo Sri Lankan crabs (2 crabs, total gross weight 3.4 kilos). They were very firm and meaty. And the bee hoon was fabulous too. It had soaked up the robust crabilicious stock. I liked that the taste was subtle, but naturally flavorsome.
Here’s Mr Cow thanking Mr Crab for a crabby time.
The homemade tofu was good, but unspectacular. Perhaps in the absence of “wow” factor dishes like crab, we’d be more impressed.
Another signature dish of Ming Kee’s, I liked this very much. We didn’t taste any alcohol from the stout, as it has already evaporated in the cooking process. But what’s left is a sweet, sticky reduction that caramelizes the pork. It’s great that they use pork belly (with the fat trimmed off), as this cut is satisfyingly juicy and firm to the bite.
Sorry I don’t have a more flattering picture of the smoked duck breast, but believe me when I say it’s a must-try! The skin is delightfully crisp, and the duck meltingly succulent and bouncy. Smells and tastes like smoked ham, but even better, IMHO!
The obligatory veggie dish in a Chinese meal. It was a bit too spicy for my tastebuds.
Ah, this is a nice dessert to cool down your palate after a spicy dish. There’s fresh young coconut flesh embedded in the agar jelly. Hmm, I’m thinking of replicating this at home. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Or nee, or Teochew yam paste, would be trickier to replicate. Ming Kee’s version was pretty good. It’s quite light and not too sweet.
Total damage of this feast? S$488 for 9 people, which works out to about S$54 each. Sounds extravagant, but do remember this is live seafood, and we ordered big ticket items like jumbo crab, bamboo clam, and whole fish.
The price also included tea, rice, and starters. Best of all, corkage is free. Yes, BYOB is encouraged here, and they provide quality crystal glasses. Service was excellent. Our plates were regularly cleared and the staff were attentive and obliging, despite it being full house on a Saturday evening.
Even though Ming Kee isn’t a fine-dining place, the food here is outstanding. They use fresh, top quality ingredients, and the dishes are superbly executed. If there’s a special occasion or we’re feeling rich, we won’t hesitate to return.
Three other foodies couldn’t make it this time. We should arrange for another makan session soon! 😀
Ming Kee Live Seafood
556 MacPherson Road
Tel: (65) 6747 4075
If you prefer to dine in air-conditioned comfort, do call to make a booking. If the air-conditioned section is full, you’ll have to sit al fresco (next to the main road).