edible adventures from the centre of the universe

06 April 2006

Review: Ming Room

A couple of weekends ago, Dave and I ventured out to Mississauga to meet our suburb-bound friends Cathy and Paul for dinner. This was my first trip out to the 'Saug which, it turns out, is made up entirely of apartment buildings, condos, and houses. This is a city that is extremely functional in its role as a suburb (housing commuters), but does not have a real downtown core - very surprising, for its size. Before meeting Cathy and Paul, we killed some time at "Ontario's Largest Mall," Square One, which was exactly as you would expect (read: soul-sucking).

On to the food. It had been decided previously that we were going to try a new (for us) type of cuisine, Hakka, which is often described as a cross between Chinese and Indian. Most of the Hakka restaurants in Toronto are concentrated in Scarborough or Mississauga, so we opted to try Ming Room (6461 Mississauga Road) based on its proximity to Cathy and Paul's place. On the way to the restaurant, we passed through "Old Mississauga," which is very cute and seems to have a lot more personality than the rest of the city.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we had to wait a few minutes for a table. There is not a huge amount of atmosphere to this place, with the decor mostly limited to a few Chinese lanterns and a couple of generic pieces of art on the wall. Once seated, I was pleased to find that the placemats were of the Chinese Zodiac variety (kitchy!). There were some corn chips (?) on the table, which we snacked on. Looking back, they were probably for putting on top of our food. There was also a container of Sambal Oelek-looking hot sauce with some garlic included, which smelled great.

Looking at the extensive menu, we could see the fusion of Chinese and Indian elements. The appetizer list contained both pakoras and wontons, and paneer dishes could be found alongside your typical sweet n' sour chicken. After some discussion, we decided on shrimp pakoras to start, followed by prawns in Hakka chili sauce, paneer in Manchurian sauce, hunan chicken, mixed vegetables, and steamed rice.

The pakoras arrived promptly, and came with a sweet dipping sauce. They tasted great, with some spice, and weren't too greasy. We polished them off quickly, and our mains came soon thereafter.

Digging in, we found that the chili prawns and Manchurian paneer really had some kick. A few bites in, all of us were sweating and reaching for the water (which was frequently refilled by our attentive server). While the chili prawns offered little more than heat in terms of flavour, the Manchurian paneer had a nice savoury-sweet element to it. Although it was a little too salty, all of us agreed that the paneer was our favourite dish. The mixed vegetables were tasty, if uninspired, and the poultry-eaters informed me that the chicken was okay, but overpoweringly sweet.

Dinner for four with tax and tip (no alcoholic beverages) came out to about $70. On my way out, I bought a container of the house-made garlicky sambal-like sauce to take home. Overall, we found Ming Room to be a neat experience, but we would not rush back.

6 rodeo clowns out of 10



Blogger Dave said...

Agreed. I believe the meat dishes we ordered were house specialties, and unless you're really into hot or really into sweet, ask them to tone it down. I don't think the Chinese zodiac placemats had a listing for Year of the Profuse Sweating.

2:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi cowgirl,
That sounds like a cool idea for a whole style of food — really a natural result of the mix of cultures you get in many big cities in North America. Too bad there aren't any within city limits — by which I mean Yonge to Roncesvalles and Bloor to the Lake.
I'm game to try a new restaurant with you guys any time!

10:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We went to another Hakka place in Scarbourough called Federicks (1920 Ellesmere Road) and it was much better than Ming Room. The portions were large and service was quick. Not much in the way of ambience, but the food was incredible. If you're ever out that way, and dying for some nice and spicy food give it a go.

4:57 PM

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