The setting sun and delicate dim sum give Stirling food for thought at Min Jiang fine dining Chinese restaurant…
There is a utopian bliss I feel looking at a city from a distance, especially in the twilight across greenery, or trees, or in this case Hyde Park. The city looks clean, enticing. Close enough to be visceral, far enough away to be ethereal – a wonderful balance of the here and now, hustle and bustle, and slightly hazy, dreamy, surreal. The sun is setting and casting a red glow across the face of the skyscrapers to the East. If I was in one of them looking west I would see a sunset wrapped in shades of pink and red. If I happened to look l hard I might see myself sat at a window in Min Jiang on the Kensington edge of Royal Hyde Park, waiting for my dumplings.
Min Jiang is a Chinese fine dining restaurant on the 10th floor of the Royal Garden hotel serving authentic cuisine with an elegant flair and determined drive for excellence. The dining room and maitre’d reflect the sun set with their warm welcome. No airy, slightly aloof attitudes of Hoxton here – smiles, courtesy and prompt seating instead as we are led thought the immaculate room. Asian porcelain bowls and pots adorn the shelves, the smell of spice and freshly cook meat float through the air.
Noted for exceptional dumplings and Beijing duck there seemed like no better place to start with the former. There is an art to making the Beijing dumplings, we are told. The rich broth contained inside each one makes it very delicate, breaking it whilst cooking is considered a crime against Dim Sum and all care and attention is taken to ensure the dumplings arrive at the table in perfect condition. This doesn’t stop me from breaking into it without hesitation or remorse. The crab meat and broth are a great combination, the accompanying dips & sauces are an added bonus. Bravo.
One of the nuances of Min Jiang is its ability to give you a dish you know and love with a twist that reinvigorates it. The expression ‘duck 100 ways’, used to describe the multitude of approaches to serving it, is embraced here in the modestly named ‘Legendary wood-fired Beijing Duck’ where you are given a variety of options to enjoy it. The words ‘meticulously’ and ‘ancient recipe’ appear next to the listing on the menu so it builds on its status and has the honour of being a flagship dish.
The first serving (this dish is typically presented in two servings) ‘Crispy duck skin in fine granulated sugar’ is new to me. The delicate skin of the neck is cooked and crisped, you take a small amount (it is very, very rich), dip it into the sugar then eat. The meat is prepared at the table quickly, efficiently and quietly – a nod of reverence towards the dish perhaps? The combination of deep savoury and high sweetness are lovely. Along with homemade pancakes, sweet sauce with shredded leek & cucumber, garlic paste, radish and Tientsin cabbage my calculations suggest you are getting close to the ‘100 ways’.
For the second serving we opted for the minced duck with lettuce wrap. Where the sugar was a punch of sweet against the meat, this combination presents a freshness that cuts through that deep savoury flavour in a different and welcome way. Again, excellent.
Tabled cleared, more appreciation of the view and a light, refreshing desert of pineapple with chilli round off an excellent dinner. As the evenings grow longer and the sunsets more beautiful I could happily spend them looking towards the city from this vantage point – providing I can have another serving of duck and dumplings.
Min Jiang can be found atop the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. For more information or to make a booking, visit www.minjiang.co.uk.