Ming’s Steamboat

Went with some friends to Ming’s Steamboat in Morphett Street one recent Saturday Night. Just the four adults because, for a wonder, we had left the kids home to their own devices.

First thing to say, if you’re heading to Ming’s Steamboat on a Saturday night take the time to ring ahead and make a booking. While we sat at our table a goodly number of people came in from off the street and were politely but firmly turned away. No booking, no table.

When we booked we were asked if we were having the Steamboat, which we were, but while we were sitting there the menu for their other dishes was on the table. It’s one of those big glossy numbers with photos and the photos looked pretty delicious. In particular the dishes with chilli seemed to have enormous amounts of little red Birdseye chilli on top, so perhaps they are for the brave.

First thing to arrive at the table was a set of bowls filled with things like chilli oil, garlic chips, spring onions and sesame paste that you could use to mix your own dipping sauce to your own taste.

Then you choose your soup base – there are four or five and they arrive in a big bowl that sits on a gas burner on your table. If you want you can choose to have a divider in your bowl so that you can have two soups to mix and match.

We chose a drunken chicken soup which came with chicken on the bone stewing in it and goji berries and Chinese dates floating in it, and a tomato and pork broth – almost like a Chinese minestrone.

So we’ve mixed our sauces, chosen our broth and then come the real arguments. A checklist of items that you can order by the plateful to cook in the broth. Dumplings, sliced meat, noodles, seafood, vegetables… The list just goes on and on. We chose a variety of bits and bobs and then just sat back and watched as it all appeared.

The rest of the evening was filled up with cooking and sharing and diving in to see what you can find swimming in the bottom of The bowl. And then at the end you get to drink the broth that everything has been cooking in. Yuuuummmm.

The one fail of the night was the baby octopus. Beautifully prepared and a generous serve of the little things, but you try cooking them so they don’t end up with the texture and taste of rubber bands. Not the restaurant’s fault, just our lack of skill.

Go with friends, sit around and decide what you’re sharing and have a cookout.

The cost for four, including drinks and corkage on a BYO bottle of red? About $80, which just seems pretty dirt cheap really.

Service was friendly and helpful, without going overboard, and the decor was pretty standard Chinese diner laminex and red paper lanterns, but one point to watch… With all those soup bowls bubbling away, even on a cold night it got quite steamy and humid, bordering on uncomfortable in there, so take a towel, strip off and have a sauna as well.

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