Lunch at Her Name Is Ming

My 100th blog post and I'm thrilled as the brief was to review the ongoing Pan Asian Street Food promotion at Her Name Is Ming.

This unusual name evokes the usual question- who is Ming? Well, Her Name Is Ming is the Asian restaurant at President Hotel on Radhakrishna Salai.

Chef Shivajee has done many things since he came back to Chennai from Singapore. And it's good to know that he's in charge here. Asian food is his forte and I was curious to see how authentic he would go in this setting.

The restaurant itself is located towards the back of the hotel, a quiet place and I love the soothing blues of the interiors. For some reason, whenever I step in, it reminds me of being in a birdcage, minus the noise of course.

And I love the the lush accents too.

The 2 page menu was all about typical street food - roti John, satay, popiah, chee cheong fun, murtabak, mee goreng, chicken rice, kway teow.  Ok ok, got only one stomach, choose well.

And so, for starters, we opted for roti John, chicken satay and chee cheong fun.

Roti John is mince meat, onions and egg slathered over half a baguette which is plonked face down on a griddle and cooked. It was served with tomato sauce and a pepper mayonnaise. I usually avoid tomato sauce, however this dish needed a little pep and zing.
The satay was cooked to perfection. Chef has a satay grill and the meat had the aroma of hawker style satay though the marinade lacked the flavour of lemongrass. It was served with lontong - compressed rice cakes, cucumber, onion slices and a tangy peanut sauce.

Chee cheong fun is part of a dim sum set, a translucent steamed rice roll, sliced and served with a dipping sauce and fried shallots. This one didn't have the traditional translucency but then again, the flavour was all there. It was a vegetarian rendition, sesame oil, soya and hoisin sauces adding their subtle notes.

For mains, we had nasi kandar, the Malay version of a thali- a bowl of steamed rice, lamb rendang, ayam masak lemak(chicken in coconut milk), assam pedas(fish in tamarind sauce), stir fried vegetable, prawn sambal and achar(veg pickle). The rendang was outstanding, the lamb could have been a little more tender. The chicken was well cooked, redolent with the flavour of lemongrass, the gravy the perfect accompaniment for rice. The stir fry with its hint of sesame oil was a winner. The fish was disappointing, the prawn sambal while good, lacked the hit that a bit of belachan (prawn paste) could have given it. The achar could have done with a bit more acidity which would have cut down on the richness of the coconut milk.

Another main was the mee siam- thin rice noodles in tamarind chilli sauce. With the accompaniments of boiled egg, tofu, beansprouts and prawns. Spot on with the flavours and my personal favourite.

The char kway teow came highly recommended. Now, when you see calamansi limes, you know that's the real deal. Chef had a secret ingredient in this dish- chicken lap cheong( Chinese sausages). Our dish also had prawns and chicken strips, and the slightly charred flavour. The flat and the thin rice noodles were perfectly cooked and springy, but again the belachan was missing. I do understand belachan is an alien flavour for the Indian palate- it has even been mistaken for toxic gas leak.

Stuffed to the gills, we had to try the chendol. My eternal gratitude to the chef- all it had was coconut milk, bits of ice, jaggery syrup and worms- not really! The green stuff is made from mung bean flour, cooked and passed through a sieve into iced water where the paste falls in shreds. I so dislike anything else in my chendol. Though I did miss the date palm jaggery that would have given it a flavour more akin to the original.

Would we go back? In a heartbeat. About the best Asian food at Chennai right now.
The service is impeccable, Chinese tea was served throughout the meal.

A meal for 2 would cost about Rs. 2500/- and that's a lot cheaper than catching a flight to any Asian destination. And like us, you will be stuffed to the gills.

The Asian Street Food promotion is on till November 15th.

The restaurant has now shut down. 


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