New Singaporean Restaurant Ming Kee in Makati Avenue Serves Some of the Best Seafood in the MetroJuly 23, 2015
While still in pursuit of great Bak Kut Teh in Metro Manila, there has been tons of talk about the newly-opened seafood restaurant along Makati Avenue that came from the same land as the famed pork rib soup. Ming Kee, which is, apparently, a bastion of live sea fare in Singapore—at 556 McPherson Road, to be exact. It boasts of Southern Chinese cuisine and specialties from the water, with gigantic crabs loosely held captive, clawing right at you before they meet the steamers. Meaty and shiny cold cuts welcome you as you enter the restaurant; they glisten with a dark caramel hue with slightly charred and candied trimmings of fat. The place is designed tastefully; oriental elements are decked out with a modern finish—granite floors, halogen lamps, and big windows add the ample amount of illumination to the establishment.
I’ve been to Singapore twice in my life, and each visit came with overflowing bowls of piping-hot laksa, which I took immense pleasure in as the soup scalded my throat and coated my palate with mind-blowing spice. I greedily choked on sticks of satay in Lau Pa Sat, savoring every damn second nibbling on the perfectly cooked meat in peanut sauce that was washed down by cool (and consecutive) glasses of sugar cane juice. Diving into plates of cereal prawns and crabs cooked in several different ways yielded an allergy that I felt was a small price to pay for the delicious food that rested in my belly. Having high hopes of recreating that experience in Manila only built up my excitement for Ming Kee.
We easily wiped out an addictive starter of deep-fried enoki ribbons that were slightly coated in a batter of salt, pepper, and maybe a modest sprinkle of chicken powder. I usually struggle with enoki getting bundled up in my throat or leaving stringy bits in between my teeth when cooked a different way, but these were shatteringly crisp without compromising the mushrooms’ bouncy texture.
Ming Kee’s Homemade Beancurd is what you should order if you’re looking for a lighter alternative. Generous chunks of soy came with a slightly firm surface that immediately gave way to the silky interior. Simply glazed with a light sauce and studded with a few vegetables, this is one of the tastier tofu dishes you can get in Metro Manila.
It is imperative to order a bowl (or two) of rice to go with Ming Kee’s steamed clams with special house sauce. The clams come sweet and succulent—so fresh, too, that a welcome slick from the meat is more indicative of good quality shellfish rather than offensive. Flavors of rice wine, bean paste, and a tinge of ginger intermingle with a generous dose of freshly chopped garlic finished off with a mild hint of chili. It is so tempting to treat the sauce like soup, but caution must be exercised. I feasted on this dish like the main event, ravenously wolfing down spoonfuls of rice and sauce and clam and crisp enoki into my mouth—gosh, what an umami party this was. It took a lot of effort to slow down.
The menu will tell you that the restaurant’s star is the triple-cooked crab beehoon (acknowledged as one of Singapore’s best) is a very respectable dish. A gigantic crab is stir-fried, steamed, and then braised to infuse flavors into every morsel and crevice. It is then set on a mound of rice noodles cooked in fragrant oil with the crustacean’s abdomen hollowed out and bursting with caramelized shallots. It could use a bit more garlic, but the crabmeat was cooked excellently—it was very tender, sporting an ample springiness and retaining the slight briny flavor you’d look for in fresh catch. Be prepared to use your hands—trust me, you’d love to scrape out any tidbit of meat left after the first attack.
Another star, we believe, is their Cereal Prawns. Though a contrasting dish to the elegant crab beehoon, this was an indulgent parade of sweet and salty flavors with stray slivers of fiery green chili. The confetti of cereal (they must have a supply of Nestum hidden somewhere in the building) that the prawns came with was served in a balanced amount that you don’t feel that they skimped out on the seafood. Shoveling through the cereal was like digging into a sandbox for buried treasure, which came in the form of huge, juicy prawns that were tasty enough to carry the cereal’s flavor.
Dessert came in a refreshing assortment of fruit-based treats: a straightforward mango and tapioca dessert, seasonal fruits flambéed in rum and butter and served in coconut milk, and a lychee-tapioca pudding. All were fantastic, but the flambéed fruits made a most striking impression.
Ming Kee resolutely proves to be one of the better seafood places in Metro Manila today. The chances of over-ordering are very, very high based on its thoughtful menu, I tell you. But it is a worthy indulgence that’s best shared with colleagues, friends, or family. So much vigor and thought goes into each dish—no matter how simple. And this is what makes the Ming Kee stand out. I’m a firm believer that the perfection of most simplistic of dishes is a good sign of a great restaurant. Ming Kee may have just gotten it right. The Bak Kut Teh can wait.
Have you tried Ming Kee? How did you like it? Sound off with a comment below!
This review was conducted solely by the author, who did not accept any form of cash advertising, invitation, sponsorship or payment. It was paid for by the author or Pepper.ph, and the views represented are purely the writer’s own. It is based on several visits to the restaurant.
Ming Kee Live Seafood
Address: 7852 Makati Ave., Poblacion, Makati City