Open daily midday–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
Recently I’ve had the unsettling thought that I may be tiring of a relationship that I thought would endure until my old age. It started 15 years ago and had, until recently, been a beautiful journey of discoveries and adventure at every turn. Of late however, it has become a little ordinary and frequently frustrating. I feared I may no longer want the things that she offered. I loved London, but I worried that our time together may be coming to an end.
So it is with immense happiness that I can report our romance has been given a shot in the arm, courtesy of a table with a view across Kensington Gardens made blush by a setting sun, our modest sprinkling of skyscrapers puffing out their chests on the horizon. The shadows lengthened and lights twinkled as dusk gave way to darkness and I fell for the city all over again. I never thought that would happen in a Chinese restaurant.
But then Min Jiang is not your average Chinese. Let one of their cocktails loosen your stressed out shoulders in the 10th floor bar next to the restaurant and feel what it is to be cool and sophisticated. The view helps enormously. The hotel is ugly as sin on the outside but in the bar it’s all white leather chairs and dark wood tables with little red tea lights flickering. We browsed the menu with the cocktails and were lead into the restaurant when the glasses were drained.
Our super enthusiastic waiter Chong advised on the supporting acts before the star billing arrived (the duck). His appetite must be bigger than ours but the chilli salted squid (£9.80) was a good shout as it was delicate and non greasy with a super satisfying crunch. Smoked Jasmine Ribs (£10.50) were ingenious as your tongue got hit with the barbecue tea flavour first, the sesame and pork flavours following after. Dee-lish.
A chef with a sharp knife brings the duck (£32 for half), before deftly taking off some shavings of skin, which you eat after a quick dip in sugar. Tasted like popcorn, something else I didn’t expect. Much better were the pancakes, which come the way you expect and also, with garlic paste, radish and tientsin cabbage, which made for a interesting alternative. We hadn’t seen the last of the duck either – it turned up as a kind of minced canape on little discs of lettuce which were nice enough but the kind of thing you want as an appetiser really.
I was biased against the Cod in Cha Sha sauce (£34) before I tasted it as it had come all the way from Alaska (what’s wrong with the British stuff eh?) but the chefs are insistent it’s of better quality apparently. Can’t argue with that – it had a poached texture and slipped down like teriyaki-flavoured silk. By this point I really didn’t need the Gong Bao Tiger Prawns (£20.50) but they had a double flavour trick like the ribs – sweet first, with the chilli creeping up afterwards. The trick got better with repetition, I found. If you’ve only ever eaten Chinese food from a takeaway or from one of the cheap Chinatown joints, the food here will prove refreshing. It ain’t cheap, but the food and the view are certainly worth it for a special occasion. Like trying to rekindle a romance, for example.