Those who know me are aware that I do not like Chinese food from restaurants. It is disgusting compared to authentic Chinese food prepared by Chinese in their homes. There have been a few moments when I have gone to Chinese restaurants with friends who are immigrants from China. They have been the ones placing orders and the food came with the rich flavours that I recalled from years ago during a visit to China. And I am also reminded of my first roommate’s parents showing us how Chinese food should taste. All it took was having “real” Chinese food for me to become a snob for what’s good in that space.
After a few hours of being in tourist mode downtown, a friend and I passed by Ming Hin Cuisine at 333 E. Benton Place. A quick glance inside and it had become evident that this was not a tourist trap. And hearing all the Chinese spoken inside, my friend and I took a chance. Having devoured a heavy breakfast only a few hours earlier, we were mostly wanting something light, yet mildly filling.
We started with cocktails and turnip cake. For me, I had a rum runner, which was doctored nicely, hiding much of the rum. My friend had a tropical cocktail that the bartender told her not to drink as if quenching a thirst. The turnip cake was not dessert cake. This dim sum item was prepared with turnip, shredded radish, and bits of pork. We dipped pieces of the turnip alternately in a thick sauce with a soy sauce base and red chili sauce.
For the main dishes, we ordered salt and pepper shrimp and shrimp in lobster sauce. Fans of shrimp will enjoy the kick from the balanced seasoning of plain salt and pepper and the extra bite of jalapeño peppers along with red and green bell peppers. These shellfish came whole. The shrimp in lobster sauce was also highlight, yet another dish that shrimp fans will find tasty. The sauce is heartier than what I’ve had at Chinese restaurants in the past. It was actually better.
There were no off-putting flavours, just great taste. The restaurant has a big box feel. We sat in the bar area, so we got to enjoy the dining experience without unruly children running around. This is the Lake Shore East location. There is a Chinatown location that I believe is crowded constantly, per photos that I have seen on Instagram. The dim sum menu looks extensive, so I am going to chat with one of my friends from Beijing to see if he’s open for trying the location in Chinatown. I think part of why Chinese food does not appeal to me is that you must go with someone who is familiar with the recipes such that they can make recommendations for something other than general chicken, orange chicken, beef with broccoli, and other buffet staples. I am confident that Ming Hin in Chinatown will exceed my expectations, but I will only take that chance with my Chinese friends doing the ordering.