[ Food Week — Heritage Restaurants ] Prior to discovering heritage restaurants, I still stubbornly believed all food was somehow a close relative of, or at adjacent to Cantonese dishes. That was in part the prevalence of international HK chains, but also a product of my family’s eating habits.

Thus when a certain someone’s family brought me to Ming Chung, not only was I intimidated by the familiar yet foreign dishes (white lor mee, what is this sorcery!), I was as to whether I could adapt to the flavours.

When we arrived at MC, and we ended up loitering amidst stray wind and rain waiting for a table. Despite the unrelenting weather and crowd, I wasn’t too agitated; perhaps it was the brisk yet warm service, the strangely familiar scents, or the relaxed familial chatter of the restaurant that set me at ease.

Plastered on the far wall was the history of the place: MC is one of the few restaurants that specialise in Henghua cuisine — food from Putien in the Fujiian province that shares some hallmarks of Hokkien and Fuzhou food. However, since Putien is coastal, much of their cuisine draws from the sea — instead of the heavy flavours typical of traditional Hokkien fare, these items offer a more transient, but no less potent taste of the sea.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Hokkien food for how dense and rich it is, but I found myself much more partial towards Henghua cuisine instead. Their mains tend to bloom with the brightness of fresh greens, tempered with the sweet brine of shellfishes.

For fellow newcomers, a good way to ease your way into the cuisine is through their signature white lor me: Also known as rickshaw noodles, instead of the thick, dark sauce of traditional lor me, you’re instead met with thick wheat noodles encircling a much more delicate potpourri of seafood, pork bits, fried beancurd skin, yam, and greens.

Another speciality of note is their fried batang fish! A product created by the convergence of Southern China and Southeast Asian gastronomical routes, the impeccable heat control and thin slices help keep the external layer taut and dry whilst retaining a moist and tender interior — a balanced symmetry between harmonious dichotomies.