Ming Room - Best Upscale Cantonese in KL?
Just returned from a business trip to Kuala Lumpur, where we lunched at the Ming Room, Bangsar Shopping Centre. Unlike many upscale Chinese restaurants located in hotels in mainly -Muslim Malaysia which are halal (i.e. pork-free), Ming Room serves Chinese food in all its glory - roast pork, char siew, pork fat, pork lard & all.
I was told that Ming Room's close competitor is Reunion, another upscale Cantonese restaurant in Bangsar Village II mall, just a few minutes away. Anyway, being unfamiliar with KL, I pretty much depended on my hosts.
The food literally blew me away! The "char siew" pork was the best I've ever had outside of Hong Kong & Guangzhou - fatty, caramelised slices of velvety pork-belly slices, so robust & full of flavors. The accompanying "siew yoke" (crispy pork with crackling on top) was exquisite - the brittle crackling was light & perfectly crisp.
The next course was stir-fried sharksfin omelette, served in little lettuce cups. Followed by seafood consomme steamed in individual whole mini-pumpkins; grilled black pepper pork chops; an amazing deep-fried giant carp fish-head accompanied by braised fish fillets; and a platter of absolutely delicious braised abalone, served with spinach-topped egg tofu & broccoli.
The penultimate course was braised rice vermicelli in a thick-brown herbal sauce flavored by ginseng & wolfberries. It was both robust & intoxicatingly addictive.
We rounded off the meal with a cold dessert of double-boiled & then chilled snow-frogs' glands with red dates & nashi pear.
It was quite simply the best Chinese meal I've ever had in Kuala Lumpur. Cost: RM1,700 (USD500) for 12 persons (not including drinks).
I liked Jalan Alor's char siew as well - it's leaner than Ming Room's, so much depends on your preference.
In fact, almost all the char siew I had in KL are very good, although some are a bit over-caramelised/extremely sweet (especially those from the Tai Thong and Overseas chains).
I think Ming Room's style of cooking is more sophisticated & creative (fusion) than Reunion (which has an excellent hokkien mee for a fancy place). Ming Room is part of the Oriental group, is has another creative sister restaurant called Noble house and a seafood sister rest, Yu Jia (nice siew yoke, fried french beans with floss, prawn mee soup that's not on the menu and an unusual fish dish that looks and tastes like steamed fish but i think is flashfried in an oil bath, they make this from live fish from the tank, so it's pricey but yummy) both in the Imbi area.
Top KL char siew places:
-Tengkat Tong Shin, the street parallel to Alor: greasy and darkish shack in the same row as Vietnamnese Sao Nam, lunchtime only. Forget the steamed chicken which is mediocre and just stick to the incredible char siew. So popular that service can be plain rude.
- Overseas restaurant, Imbi road (this is the original branch): Book the char siew when you make your dinner reservation. Siew Yoke also good.
- Wang Wang kopi tiam at the far end of Alor: Also decent char siew and siew yoke, can be combined with wonton noodles.
- There's another famous char siew in Ampang called Soo Kee, been around for many years. Open for dinner too and serves cooked dishes. Air-con kopi tiam.
Have you all tried the siew yoke in Pudu that has melt in the mouth layers of fat and a crunchy top? Requires a lengthy wait in a hot kopi tiam, you basically pitch up early to secure a table, place your order and wait for the meat to emerge from the oven and it has to cool a bit before it's chopped up.
Yes the Jalan Alor char siew place is Meng Kee, the one and only... Actually as klyeoh points out, good char siew is not that hard to find in KL. The real challenge is finding the five layer of meat "siew yoke" that in Chinese is called "eem fah lam" (yes, I just butchered that translation). These days most places just serve the 2 layers (crispy on top + lean meat)... I haven't been to Soo Kee yet but it sounds like what I have been looking for since the "Ah Keong siew yoke" guy in SS2 passed away many years ago...