Ming Dynasty Restaurant
Ming Dynasty caters to a diverse Goleta crowd and the variety can be distracting to the menu that suits each person best.
The prepared buffet on a Sunday afternoon seemed very popular to families, and non-Chinese. It was cheap, $13, and plentiful. It is also not for me, so of course I did not order it.
The Mongolian BBQ looked very good, and freshly prepared according to your own sauce and ingredient concoction, and there is a list of flavor combinations to guide the uninitiated, in English and Spanish. Meat options were beef, pork, chicken and lamb. The price of the BBQ was included in the buffet. Maybe this is not always true for other meals, but for Sunday afternoon, it was. We were very tempted by this, only for the bbq, but opted to try it sometime later during a work-week lunch.
The sit-down menu had three distinct parts: the English menu, the dim sum menu and the Chinese menu.
The English menu looked fine, the standard stuff most people go for.
The Chinese menu, not offered to the average diner by default, seemed very similar to the English one, but there were some differences, like having items that were more Taiwanese than Chinese and this is where we enjoyed our meal most.
* Clay Pot 3 Cup Lamb – on the Chinese menu. This is thin-sliced lamb cooked in wine, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, with fresh basil. Served in a clay bowl over a bed of cabbage, we took the cabbage and buried it under the hot lamb to give it a quick blast of heat before eating.
* Half a roasted duck – not made in-house. It was okay, but drier than duck roasted in-house. Served with plum sauce. On both the English and Chinese menu.
* Sauteed pea shoots – yummy! Eat lots of pea shoots while they are in season!
* Rice. I guess I suck at making my own Chinese rice. I quite liked this rice.
The place was very busy with customers, lots of gweilo but also a good number of asians, particularly in groups.
There is also a cocktail lounge! Reminiscent of asian exotica kitsch. I think that’s pretty cool.
For my meal, I’d put this at 3.5 stars. But, my best item was on the Chinese menu, which you will not be able to parse without understanding Chinese or someone at your table understanding Chinese. So, I knock off a star to match better with what another diner could best replicate.