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Ming Court – There’s Something in the Air

Written By Scott Joseph On September 9, 2010

There’s an old joke about the quality of a new restaurant with a punchline that says, “10 million flies can’t all be wrong,” or something like that. If you substituted gnats for flies, you’d have my thoughts about a recent meal I had at Ming Court on International Drive. Ming Court certainly is not new — I first reviewed it in 1989 — and an infestation of gnats is not quite the harbinger of unsanitary conditions that flies represent. But an infestation is the only way I can describe what I experienced.

You know there’s a problem when the waiter comes by to ask how we like the entrees and not so nonchalantly waves his hand over the table to disperse the little flying black dots. And it apparently wasn’t confined to something near my table: I noticed a man far across the vast dining room who kept one hand waving while the other hand worked the chopsticks throughout his lunch.

Obviously, something needs to be done about that problem. And once that is solved, perhaps attention could be paid to improving the quality of the food.

My lunch companions and I enjoyed our appetizers, called dim sum on the menu but served a la carte instead of from a cart. The pork dumplings were good and fat, and the shrimp cakes had a good dense texture and even flavor.

But my mu shu pork had way too much mu shu and not enough pork, precious little of it. The preponderance of shredded bok choy was wrapped inside mandarin pancakes that did not seem as though they had been made recently.

When it first opened, Ming Court was a new kind of Chinese restaurant for the area, one that attempted to offer a fine dining experience. Most Americans associated Chinese food with small, mom-and-pop restaurants, all decorated in red, serving inexpensive Anglo-Asian dishes. Ming Court offered something better, and its more upscale decor, floor-to-ceiling glass walls that look out to koi ponds surrounded by the undulating dragon’s-back garden wall, and a noticeable dearth of red were pleasant diversions. I remember watching, back in 1989, a couple coming in and being seated at a nearby table. They picked up their menus, apparently looked at the prices, then got up and left. Without its proximity to the Convention Center and large hotels, Ming Court may not have survived.

If it doesn’t hook up with a good pest control service, it may not continue.

Ming Court is at 9188 International Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to Ming Court’s Web site. The phone number is 407-351-9988.

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