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The Ming Palace is one of the city’s grand dames that has been around forever, dishing up excellent halal Cantonese and Szechuan cuisines. Located on the first floor of Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur, the restaurant is decidedly Chinese in its red colour scheme contrasted with dark wood furniture and walls that hide private dining spaces behind them.
It is also one of the first halal establishments in Kuala Lumpur and has been instrumental in introducing both cuisines to a wider audience. A favourite spot for both quick business lunches and leisurely banquets, the food has been consistently good over the years courtesy of its chefs and wait staff – many who’ve been with the restaurant for decades.
Though one of the signature dishes here is the inimitable hot & sour Szechuan soup, Ming Palace excels in a variety of other dishes too. The stir-fried prawns in hot garlic sauce is a lovely way to get acquainted with Szechuan cuisine, and though doused in a wicked-looking sauce, the fresh prawns in it retain their firmness, lending a sweet finish to the garlicky sauce that is perfect with both rice or mantou buns.
With fish, try the steamed cod in superior soy sauce where the flesh of the fish is treated with great respect and embellished with an equally delicate sauce that celebrates its taste and texture.
The braised pee par beancurd is an good side dish that will also appeal to vegetarians with broccoli florets and earthy mushrooms jostling for space on plate and palate with the silky bean curd. The other must-try is the Szechuan stir-fried French beans that are cooked over a blisteringly hot flame and tossed with garlic, ginger, preserved vegetables and Szechuan peppercorn.
For something more fusion, the Thai-style crispy fried chicken with mango is a tangy creation that is easily a crowd favourite. All dishes are served piping hot and the accompanying steamed jasmine rice is the perfect canvas for these dishes to shine.
For dessert, Ming Palace does a number of sweet soups such as gingko nuts and lotus seed soup and chilled sea coconut with longan. If time is not an issue, opt for the freshly prepared crispy pancake with lotus paste, a dessert that is becoming a rarity in Chinese restaurants nowadays.
As with most Chinese restaurants, the focus here is on the teas. For those who want wines to go with their food, the waiters will obligingly bring them a menu from the Kencana Lounge & Cellar downstairs.
Attentive and pleasant, the wait staff welcome parties into this elegant restaurant with big smiles. Despite the restaurant being crowded, service is quick and this includes checking first on what guests like to dine on and then only suggesting the mains and complimentary sides. Staff are also adequately knowledgeable about the food, preparation type, spice level, and suggested appropriate serving sizes. The tea is replenished promptly and additional bowls of rice appear quickly, courtesy of eagle-eyed waiters who are always just an arm’s length away to take care of guests’ needs.
The price of the food is pretty decent considering the inclusion of premium produce like cod fish and jumbo prawns, and the portions are more than adequate for three diners. This being a Chinese restaurant, solo diners may not be able enjoy a good selection of dishes and hence, dining in groups is a better bet to make most of the offerings available the restaurant.