January 12, 2014

Everything but the duck

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I'm in Beijing for a short business trip, attending a conference organized by a former employer.  As part of the overall program, I'm attending two dinners hosted by my prime broker, and Peking duck feature prominently at both dinners...

First up tonight is DaDong Artistic Conception Food (大董中国意境菜) - a branch of which I had hit on my last trip to Beijing.  The location tonight was within a shopping mall, and was in fact within walking distance from the Peninsula Beijing.  Pretty convenient for me.

We unrolled the scroll that was our menu tonight, and my jaw dropped at the number of courses we were going through tonight with the Winter Tasting Menu (冬趣).  I'd better not finish everything put in front of me tonight then...

Crispy mushroom in tomato (蕃茄脆菇沙拉) - the tomatoes were stuffed with mushrooms, which was interesting and actually tasty.

Goose liver hawthorn (山楂鹅肝) - half of these were hawthorn (山楂), and the other half were foie gras pâté made to look like hawthorn - much like the foie gras lollipops at Amber.

Sweet pork ribs at snowy river (江雪糖醋小排) - typically artistic presentation.  The sweet and sour pork ribs were pretty decent.  The staff came to sprinkle the "snow" onto the slate.

Pickled chicken (脆皮咸鸡) - not a fan.  The skin was crunchy like jellyfish, and the meat was a little on the dry side.

Fruit salad with traditional Beijing gezhihe (花开咯吱) - the one I took had mango on top.

Arugula salad with Parmesan cheese (斑马臣干酪拌芝麻叶)

Traditional Beijing snacks (北京小吃六款) - I'm not sure if we were really served these...whatever they were!

Stewed matsutake with spring water in stone pot (石锅泉水松茸) - definitely got the delicate fragrance of matsutake mushrooms (松茸).

Sauteed crab meat with roe and egg white (蛋羹秃黄油) - steamed egg white custard with hairy crab roe on top.  Very sinful...

Beef with green lemon and sea salt (青柠松露盐煎牛肉) - the beef itself was pretty good, and there was an interesting combination of fragrance and flavors from the green lime, sea salt and black truffle.  The beef was rolled in the salt/lime dip just before serving on each person's plate.

Stewed flounder, deboned (侉炖比目鱼) - creative presentation, and taste-wise this was OK.  Stewed in cellophane.

Chef Dongs fried prawns with spicy sauce (董氏宫保虾) - this was OK.

Brussels sprouts with tender green pea (抱子甘蓝炒嫩豆) - pretty tasty and sweet.

Sauteed bean sprouts (清炒豌豆尖)

DaDong [superlean] roast duck (大董[酥不腻]烤鸭) - not bad, but I've never liked DaDong's duck.  It's too dainty, too "refined".  It's like the nouvelle cuisine of Peking duck, and I don't like it.  I want my Peking duck fatty, in big pieces.  I wanna see that liquid duck fat ooze out as the chef slices up the bird.  I wanna feel the liquid fat drip onto my tongue as I put pressure on the crispy skin with my teeth.  I don't want my duck to come in little slices, like it's about to go into a wok for stir-fry.

Sweet glutinous dumplings in coconut (椰汁汤圆) - black sesame filling.  Mmmmm...

Sugarcoated fruits dandelion (蒲公英糖葫芦) - the cotton candy is meant to look like dandelions, I guess... There's a hawthorn (山楂) at the center of it.

That was a lot of food!  Most of it was pretty decent, and a lot of thought has been put into the presentation and all.  I rolled myself back to my hotel room, and hoped to digest most of it before dinner tomorrow...

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