The writer was invited to visit Ming restaurant, and the meal was complimentary.
A Personal Story
When asked to recall his decision, five years ago, to leave Delhi, India, for a career in the United States, Vipul Gupta, offers a warm smile. His long-distance career move led to his current role as corporate chef for the Mehtani Group, which owns several restaurants, including Ming, in Edison. He’s culinary director of Ming, where he has established a pan-Asian culinary philosophy and menu.
“I was ready to show my skills in America,” Gupta said, noting that he began his career journey with a four-year degree at Manipal University, a culinary school in India, along with two years of apprenticeship work. He knew the move was a major decision. “I was clear that I wanted to do this. My parents supported me, but some of my friends and colleagues were not so sure. Now, everyone is proud of me and what I’ve accomplished in the United States.”
Following his university studies and apprenticeships, Gupta became well acquainted with regional pan-Asian concepts. For 15 years, he worked as a chef throughout India’s vast hospitality industry. Having learned the fundamentals, he implemented his own techniques to create Ming’s dishes. His colleagues at Ming and the Mehtani group, many of whom have worked as skilled chefs for 20 years, embraced Gupta’s suggestions.
The results of this collaboration were on display during a stellar feast one evening in mid-February at Ming, located in the Oakwood Plaza shopping center, at the intersection of Oak Tree Road and Wood Avenue in Edison.
A Panoply of Pan-Asian Flavors
The pan-Asian concept, as defined by Gupta, refers to a mixture of diverse, distinctive culinary traditions of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. A spectrum of dried chilies and chili oils, ranging from mild to intensely spicy, along with a curated selection of herbs such as basil, green onions and cilantro, represent the foundation flavors for pan-Asian vegetables, meats, and fish.
But that’s only half the concept. Gupta pointed out that his philosophy extends to cooking techniques — grilling, roasting, steaming, and broiling — that go beyond the familiar wok style of Chinese food preparation.
He credits his team of experienced chefs as being open to his concepts, creating new recipes and new styles of presentation for patrons. Gupta also indicated that the American palate (at least for dedicated foodies and restaurant goers here in New Jersey) is ready for and accepting of these pan-Asian dishes.
Gupta prepared a dazzling, nonstop feast for this reporter seated with other guests. The selection began with a fresh papaya salad. This dish, in its beautiful simplicity, hit all the bright “grace notes” of all the pan-Asian flavors mentioned by Gupta: cilantro, basil, and chili.
We moved onto Drums of Heaven chicken wings, and an especially delightful crispy corn salad with bell peppers and onions.
And the evening continued with so much goodness, including the following:
- Eggplant and scallion dish with herb butter
- Nagasaki shrimp bao buns with spicy tempura sauce
- Noodles with a mild basil/oyster sauce
- Sautéed greens (broccoli, snow peas), baby corn, and water chestnuts
- Tom yum fried rice
- Crispy mushrooms dusted with rice flour in a rich Szechuan sauce
- A hot hake platter, generously seasoned with black peppercorns and chili oil
And yes, dessert happened. We enjoyed slices of a three-layer cassata Indian ice cream cake alongside a chocolate lava cake made for a sweet, beautiful finish to a sumptuous meal.
About the Restaurant
Ming first opened at this location in December 2000. Six months ago, the team had its rooms renovated. The restaurant’s comfortable décor features subdued, intimate lighting, grass cloth walls, hand-carved red woodwork, and colorful, rectangular-shaped chandeliers.
The waitstaff provides warm, friendly, professional service. Ming offers a full selection of wine, cocktails, and beer to pair with its savory dishes.
Throughout the evening we felt the reassuring serenity of Ming’s Buddha — a good-luck statue perched at the center of the restaurant. This gathering of foodie fans, the convivial interaction, and the beautiful meal we enjoyed were expressions of kindness, generosity, and mindfulness. Thank you, Ming. We are most grateful.
1655-195 Oak Tree Road