Friday, July 3, 2009

Ming Kee: do we crown a new king?

with Larry and Prof Horolographer.

For Larry and me, the undisputed king of seafood in Singapore is Sin Huat, and her chef/owner extraordinaire Danny. Not only does it serve the best, freshest, and tastiest seafood (piece de resistance is Crab Beehoon), but Danny has an attitude to match, and prices to threaten.

I have read many reviews about Ming unpretentious little restaurant, tucked amongst economy rice and cze char shophouses in MacPherson. Ieatishootipost raved about the mussels. Chubby Hubby even claimed that this was Ignatius Chan (of Iggy's and formerly Les Amis) favourite restaurant. Indeed Aun's review was highly positive, even proclaiming at the conclusion that some of his friends think the crab bee hoon to be better than Sin Huat's. Chef Danny currently hold my ticket for best crab bee hoon in Singapore...albeit also the most expensive cze char in town as well. This alone intrigued Larry to highly desire to eat at Ming Kee...and off we went.

We started with the crab bee hoon.

Despite the reputation, we found the crab bee hoon to be only very good, but not surpassing Danny's amazing creations. The bee hoon was tasty, but not as crustacany and infused with wonderful broth as Sin Huat's. But it comes very close. This is a good thing, as it offers a viable substitute, especially when one is not able to stomach eating at Sin Huat. For the uninitiated, eating at Sin Huat is an experience (we have taken famous watchmakers to eat there...and they were uniformly amazed as well as impressed...horological luminaries like Philippe Dufour, like Dr. Frank Muller have given their gastronomic nod of approval). But you will have to put up with Danny's antics...slow service - a 6 course meal could take 3 hours to complete, very expensive prices - the same 6 course meal for 8 pax could cost upwards of S$700. Though still, at this price, if you are after the best taste, you gotta go to Sin Huat.

We also had the steam mussels with crispy garlic

This dish was a revelation. The sauce is a typical Teochew sauce used for steaming fish. Sweet, salty...a bit coy. And coupled with very fresh mussels, actually I think they are more like clams than the green liped mussels, it draws out the sweetness, beautiful taste of the clams. The deep fried, crispy bits of garlic added to the shiok-ness. This dish got the two thumbs up from all of us.

We also had steamed crayfish with chopped garlic

The crayfish was halved, and simply steamed with heaps of chopped garlic. The crayfish was very fresh, the meat succulent, sweet, tasty. The orange/brown fat packed a powerful punch, increased the intensity of this dish. Again, all three of us loved it.

We also had sambal kangkong.

This too was rather special...the kangkong was young, well cooked, and the sambal sauce was tasty and spicy. But the crispy lard sprinkling added a dimension of greatness to this dish. Excellent.

We thought we would have had enough, but we didn't. We ordered a plate of seafood mee sua.

The mee sua was a bit first...we compared this to a recent meal at PuTian, and the PuTian version was all the more tasty and had more intensity. But Ming Kee was not about to roll over and be kicked away. The secret ingredient in a spicy, pungent chilli sauce made all the difference. This elevated the mee sua to another level. It heightens the taste, and savouriness. It intensifies the experience. With the chilli, I would rate this at least on par with PuTian's offering. Without the chilli, it is pedestrian.

Overall, perhaps we raised our expectations too much with the crab bee hoon...afterall was excellent. But compared to the gold standard set by Sin Huat, it pales slightly. The mussels and crayfish were outstanding. Top marks for these two dishes. And the mee sua with chilli was very very good. I would definitely return for many visits. Service by the Chinese waitresses were very good, and the captain Desmond was friendly, knowledgable and a joy to deal with.

556 Macpherson Road
6747 4075
12noon - 2pm
5pm - 11pm
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