Head to the Melbourne fine-diner to feast your way through refined dishes that marry contemporary Australian cuisine with Chinese-Canto influences.
October 15, 2023
Melbourne's CBD is no stranger to a fine diner — where some of the world's best chefs, bartenders and front-of-house staff come together to create spellbinding experiences. And one of the latest additions to this scene is MING Dining.
At the tail end of 2023, Owner and Director Tony Yan (ex-Botanical Hotel) set up the Melbourne restaurant on the corner of Queen Street and La Trobe Street within a vast two-storey space.
Entering from the street, you're met with a huge fish tank, projections of Aussie landscapes and a glass-walled vault of wines. Head down the staircase to the large basement dining room peppered with contemporary and traditional Chinese décor. Intricately detailed wooden screens break up the private dining spaces, fake temple roofs jut out from walls and marble artwork looms over some of the seating to create a sense of total opulence. This could easily have come across as a bit kitsch, but it's done with just the right amount of restraint.
The bar is also huge, with space for plenty to gather after work and spread into the courtyard once the sun properly arrives in Melbourne.
Food-wise, expect refined dishes that marry contemporary Australian cuisine with Chinese-Canto influences.
Pacific oysters are refreshed with an XO butter and kohlrabi dressing or drizzled with umami bitters and a spring onion relish. Among the small plates, chawanmushi is upgraded with Fraser Island crab and Yarra Valley salmon caviar; roasted bone marrow twisted with a ginger salsa verde and crispy shallots; and seared baby abalone served with translucent sweet potato noodles. You also might be fortunate enough to be there when the Hong Kong-style fried chicken is on the specials board. For this, they've taken out the bone, replaced it with chicken mousse and deep-fried it. It is then served with a classic egg yolk sauce. It's absolutely divine.
Elsewhere on the larger plates, charred Black Angus beef ribs pair perfectly with gochujang and beef tendon chips, while grilled bugs and pipis tossed through an XO sauce are a must-order. The wagyu steak served with a tangy shiitake glaze and pickled mushrooms is also a huge standout.
Finish it all with the black sesame panna cotta that comes paired with a blood orange mousse and miso cookie crumbs. It's one of our favourite new Melbourne desserts.
As you'd expect with any new fine-diner in the city, the wine list is extensive. MING Dining champions Aussie drops and features a strong selection from both France and Germany.
Classic cocktails are up for grabs, but the seasonal Cantonese-inspired offerings are a must-try. The Xuan Wu made with rum, longan fruit, oolong tea and a blooming osmanthus flower is the perfect balance of both light and earthy notes. And the Ivory Tiger could be a dessert in itself, made with whisky, black tea, coffee and a dash of milk and served with a house-made biscuit. Think of it like a clarified whisky and milk punch.
And those wanting to lean right into the Chinese spirits can get around bottles of the Moutai. High flyers keen to try the unofficial national liquor of China will need to fork over a hefty $1,888 for the bottle.
But you don't need to go full, balls-to-the-walls extravagant at MING Dining. You can easily pop in for some happy hour cocktails and a round of fried chicken or grab the express lunch menu ($38 for two courses and $49 for three courses of yum cha specials). This makes the new city restaurant significantly more approachable for those of us on a budget who still want to dabble in the world of Melbourne fine dining.
Images: Jake Roden
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