We took the plunge and tried Mings last night, about which there was some talk previously. My Taiwanese wife summarized the menu as Americanized Chinese dishes mixed with a smattering of semi-authentic dishes with no real regional emphasis. The decor is more upscale than is usual in our local Chinese restaurants: white table cloths, moody lighting, waiters smartly outfitted in black. We received the rotal treatment, as two of my wife's former students work at the restaurant.
While the dishes themselves tend to be Americanized favorites (beef with broccoli, etc.), the fare is at least reminiscent of actual Chinese food. The dishes had some real flavor (lots of garlic, a bit of spice), the meat was a bit fatty, the shrimp came in the shell, the sauces were a bit lighter than usual.
Following the advice of the owner, we had potsickers, sweet and sour pork (not the McNugget variety, but lightly battered and fried pork chops in a thick fruity sauce), garlic shrimp, and dan dan mien (noodles in spicy meat sauce).
The potstickers were fine. The pork was fine, though a but heavy, and the sauce could have been more subtle. The shrimp were pointless: steamed shrimp overwhelmed by heapings of minced garlic. Piquant, but a waste of shrimp. The noodles were boldly flavored with garlic and cilantro, but so salty as to be almost inedible, and the noodles were mushy.
Ming Garden is probably the best Chinese food to be had in Chapel Hill, but my wife and I in the end decided not to return. We can do far better at home for far less money. And in any case, we would rather spend the same money at Thai Palace, which is better. For those who do not do their own Chinese cooking, however, it's probably the best option of a bad lot.
The bill came to $46. The pork and shrimp were in the $14-$15 range. Portions are reasonable: one appetizer and two entrees are about right for two people. We ordered too much food.
The restaurant is located in the big plaza near the intersection of Weaver Dairy and Airport.
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