I, almost literally, had to sing for my supper at Ming Kee restaurant (Lun Fat Street, off Johnston Road in Wanchai), where I was a guest of my Hong Kong customer. He was hosting a customer from China and asked me to talk through two Bordeaux wines he was pitching.
The restaurant is very local, complete with TV screen, bright lights and large round tables with Lazy Susans in the middle. The streetfront windows on one side are completely filled with large fish tanks (very clean, it must be said). It is almost like eating in an aquarium, except that here the exhibits are on the menu.
My dexterity with chopsticks was useful. Every course that was served was offered to me first. So, with eight pairs of Chinese eyes upon me I had to reach across to the Lazy Susan (remembering to use the serving chopsticks provided, rather than my own, which would have been extraordinarily poor table manners) and extricate a helping of whatever was there without, of course, dropping the food onto the table.
First course was roast chicken (Chinese style, of course). The skin had a glazed crispiness, similar to roast duck (Beijing duck, not Peking duck!), and the flavour of the flesh was deliciously chicken-y. I know it seems like an obvious thing to say, but the chicken had a really intense chicken flavour. At the risk of grossing out some readers, the chicken fat was yellow, not an insipid off-white. I think another part of the reason for the chicken’s deliciousness was that it had not been overcooked. There were the vaguest traces of red around some of the bones, with the result that the breasts were still juicy.
We also had a few very tasty stir fries, and then something that I’ve never seen before – a pan-sized puffed-up lump of crispy battered oysters. I could imagine being able to make individual goujons, but how they managed to get something with a radius of close on 20 cm to remain intact, I just don’t know. I did ask to be shown the method if there were more orders for that dish on the evening, but unfortunately there weren’t any.
One dreams of finding local restaurants like this, a couple of turns off the main thoroughfares, serving really good food. I can’t guarantee that Ming Kee restaurant (owned by Mr Ming) possesses any English menus, but I’m sure that communication will be sufficient to get some food onto the table.
I’ve always thought that the Champenoise are the best entertainers in the wine industry. They combine luxury and style with a kind of laid-back feeling that almost seems in contradiction with the sophistication of the product they sell.
The hospitality I’ve received in Hong Kong over the past few days – and bear in mind that in this case I’m the supplier – has been extraordinary. I would share more detail, but at this moment my customer is waiting in reception to take me for an afternoon of massage in Shenzhen (just across the border in China)!