21 Victoria Ave
Broadbeach QLD 4218
+61 7 5592 3811
Apparently the authorities decided to (finally) hold the first ever Chinese New Year celebrations on the Gold Coast during the week I was up there. The celebrations were to kick off in trendy Broadbeach before continuing at trashy Surfers Paradise a few days later. Given that this was the first Chinese New Year I’ve spent away from Melbourne and away from all the street festivals, family and red pockets (though mind you, my parents are stingy on the money-giving part and only give when they feel like it – which isn’t very often at all, heh), I was pretty excited to suss out the new year celebrations. Unfortunately, I happened to pick the worst time to be on the ‘Coast for it pretty much rained most of the time (there was literally only ONE sunny day) and so the organisers decided to cancel both the Broadbeach festivals, which fell on two nights. On what would have been the second night of the festival, the weather did clear up a little but still, there was no festival. Instead, Marty and I chose to do the next best thing to attending a new year street festival: have late-night yum cha.
Located in the heart of Broadbeach, within walking distance of various nightclubs, Ming Palace has been serving Gold Coastitutes for a number of decades. This is evident in the outdated decor, the tired walls and carpet and the extremely full dining room of punters who looked like they had been coming to this joint for many years. As quasi-regulars, Marty and our friend, Amiee, often come here for late-night bitch fests over steamers of hot dim sum. On my visit here, I instinctively thought of Supper Inn back home – one, because it’s open until late and two, you have to actually climb up a long flight of stairs to get there. The climb at Supper Inn, however, is worth it but here at Ming Palace? Not really.
It was extremely busy when we rocked up, so it was fortunate that we managed to get a table in an odd-smelling corner by the window. Earlier on, Marty’s dad warned us that Ming Palace had one of the dirtiest kitchens on the ‘Coast which SHOULD have signalled alarm bells for us. Did we listen, though? Absolutely not. Instead, we ordered some tea, a glass of wine for myself and a beer for Marty. During the day, yum cha is served properly – in carts and all – but at night, a only a limited dim sum selection is available and you have to order off the menu. Among the obligatory har gows and siu mais, the rest of the choices are Westernised favourites such as sesame prawn toasts, prawn crackers and what’s this?! prawn and bacon rolls?! I did try to order a serving of zhaliang only to be told that they only made those for lunch. Oh well.
We played it safe by ordering har gow (prawn dumplings, 4 for $5.80). They weren’t the biggest and they had ridiculously thick skins to boot (good thing? bad thing? I say ‘bad’), with a decent-tasting filling that was generous on the prawns. This was probably the only ‘good’ thing I ate here, though.
Marty normally rates the siu mai (pork dumplings, 4 for $4.80) and I have to say that they were of decent size. Again, they were generous with the filling – the pork seemed to be on the verge of bursting. I didn’t like them as much as the har gow, though. The pork meat and pork fat ratio was off – they put too much of the fat in – so the filling emitted a bit of a nasty smell when you bit into it.
I made the mistake of ordering the next two dishes. In hindsight, I didn’t even know why because they’re not normally dishes I would order – I think it was because the yum cha menu was so limited and I felt pressured to order them. I don’t know. But anyway. First up, the deep-fried prawns (4 for $5.80). Oh man, they were awful. They obviously used the frozen stuff as was obvious by the lack of taste, and how dry the meat was (obviously from having nuked it in the microwave after they had fished them out of the freezer – and left them in the microwave for too long). I don’t understand the need to use frozen stuff when one, Queensland’s famous for its abundance of fresh, good quality seafood and two, they used fresh prawns in the har gows. Meanwhile, the batter was limp and tired – and not the least bit crunchy – and given the amount of oil that was left on the paper doily, the kitchen dudes had forgotten all about draining.
Our deep-fried scallops (4 for $5.80) fared much worse. Again, the frozen stuff was used and again, the whole thing – soggy batter and all – was just nasty, nasty, nasty. Yuck.
We were still hungry afterwards but we weren’t in the mood to order anything else so we called it quits after that and had Mexican food at Guzman y Gomez to fill our bellies up. On the way out, we bumped into our friend, Amiee, who was dining on a feast of mud crab with long-life noodles – a dish which, I must admit, looked pretty good. Maybe that’s where all the praise and adoration that goes towards this places comes from – the non-yum cha fare. Still, if a restaurant can’t produce a good siu mai (which some people say is the benchmark of a good yum cha restaurant), then I think I’m justified in saying that they probably can’t make the best mud crab with noodles and so I wouldn’t be missing out if I were not to return. In the end, Ming Palace did nothing but reinforce my belief that there is no good Chinese food in Goldie.
I do love the concept of a late-night yum restaurant. In Melbourne, there are a handful of them around but they are often over-charge their patrons for mediocre dumplings (Oriental Teahouse, anyone?). Conversely, the prices at Ming Palace are slightly lower (though I paid something like $51.50 for four dishes between two, a wine and a beer which isn’t exactly cheap) but the quality is piss-poor. There needs to be a middle ground. In the mean time, I think I’ll just stick to afternoon yum cha sessions in MELBOURNE if I need a yum cha fix.