One of my favorite restaurants in Mumbai recently completed a major facelift. After months of anticipation, and on the eve of opening to the public, the Taj Lands End team held a preview dinner that I was privileged to attend. Having lived at this hotel for the first 18 months of my time in Mumbai, it was lovely to return ‘home’ and be greeted so warmly by many familiar faces. The Taj hospitality is world-renowned, but combine their attention to detail with delicious food, and you will always be sure to have a memorable experience.
The Ming Yang restaurant is located on the lobby level of the Taj Lands End hotel in Bandra. The split-level restaurant occupies a corner location in this hotel, allowing diners views of the Arabian Sea and overlooking the old Portuguese Fort. The recent renovation has seen the removal of the Chinese screens that partially masked the large picture windows, making the new space feel lighter and far more expansive.
A combination of raising the ceiling height, reworking the staircase to link the split-level restaurant that creates a far better flow, and the lighter more contemporary design by the Singapore based designer, Edward David Poole, gives a totally new and modern feel to this space. Gone is the dark and rather dingy green carpet, replaced by traditional tile work with selected areas carpeted with pops of green and purple color.
The large silver dragon provides a splendid centerpiece for diners to admire. Look closely and you will notice that the dragon holds a pearl; this represents the soul and power of the Emperor evidently.The oversized crystal lights sparkle above the tables. Arranged in various settings, the tables give maximum flexibility to comfortably accommodate couples or groups of 10+ dinners. Clever use of removable screen walls can divide the restaurant, and create private dining areas for groups of various sizes.
Ming Yang specializes in Szechwan cuisine. I must admit to having a few favorite dishes on the menu, and am happy to see that they will remain, alongside some new offerings. While living at the Taj, David and I would often visit Ming Yang for a bowl of their delicious hot and sour soup, with optional chicken or tofu. The peppery taste, apart from being extremely flavorsome, always does wonders for any sinus issues! The thick broth, with large chunks of vegetables, and complex flavors of numerous ingredients assaults the palate with sour (from vinegar) spice (from pepper or hot sauce) saltiness (from soy sauce) and wonderful fragrances (from various oils).
The dim sum at Ming Yang has also been a firm favorite. For the preview menu we enjoyed a variety of dumplings including; butternut squash, spinach and pine nut, lobster asparagus, and shanghai chicken. The bite-sized dumplings, usually served from a bamboo steamer basket but now on beautifully decorated platers brought by the servers, are cooked in a variety of ways – steamed, fried, boiled, baked or broiled. I was very happy to see that the new Ming Yang menu has expanded its dim sum offering to over 20 varieties.
Did you know the Cantonese phrase dim sum translates to ‘order to your hearts content’?
It is usually at this point of the meal that David and I would be quite content to stop eating. Meals in Mumbai seem to be conducted in a far more leisurely pace than back home in the US, and so we soldiered on, and sampled even more delicious offerings. For the main course we were served:
Sautéed Kenya beans tossed with chili, garlic spring onion, soy and cha choi,
Celery and lotus stem in a white wine sauce,
Steamed vegetable thou-sou,
Steamed red snapper with picked chili sauce,
Prawn in hot bean sauce,
Sliced chicken with stone ground mustard and birds eye chili,
Lamb in chou-hou sauce.
As if that wasn’t enough, wok friend vegetable noodles with Tobanjan sauce and an egg white and asparagus jasmine fried rice also accompanied the main dishes. Much care had obviously been taken to ensure that all the dishes served blended so well together in terms of look, taste, and aroma. The chicken and lamb dishes were supremely tender. I particularly enjoyed the steamed red snapper with the punchy chili sauce, that not only added a real flavor boost, but also a bright color to the dish.
Our meal was completed with a sampling of desserts: a chocolate mouse with five spiced caramelized popcorn and sour cherry, a date pancake, and some homemade Tahitian vanilla ice-cream all presented beautifully on a rectangular white plate.
We very much enjoyed seeing some of our favorite Taj members of staff at this event. The warm welcome from servers, who remembered us from our stay at the hotel, and the attentiveness of all the staff at the restaurant, makes a meal at the Taj such an enjoyable experience. A newly promoted butler we had known from our stay at the hotel stopped by to ensure our wine glasses were always topped up, and to give us a little more background information about the restaurant. It really adds to the overall dining experience when you are made to feel so special by the staff who clearly want to take the time to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
The food is as delicious as it has always been, the staff as attentive and efficient, but the setting and ambiance generated by the remodel are a huge improvement. The flow of the restaurant has been enhanced by moving the entrance out of the corner of the small lobby area, to a much more welcoming central location. The lighter, contemporary color scheme combined with the décor and improved design creates a vibrant energy to the space that is immediately visible to guests upon entry.
Ming Yang consistently ranks amongst the best Chinese restaurants in Mumbai and I am sure that this remodel will only increase its appeal still further. Book a table and enjoy your own epicurean feast.
Location: Taj Lands End hotel, Bandstand, Bandra West, Mumbai
Hours: Monday through Sunday – Lunch from 12.30pm to 2.45pm, Dinner from 7.30pm to 11.45pm
Reservations: Recommended, especially Friday and Saturday evenings
Bookings: 022 6668 1234