My experience at Da Dong Roast Duck in Beijing was rather disappointing. Presentation seemed to have been the priority over food quality at the outlet I visited. It wasn't cheap either in relative terms but just did not live up to the expectation or what I have been told. That was six months ago. Last Friday I was kindly invited by Mandarin Oriental along with fellow foodies Patricia from 素顏天使 (Sù Yán Tiān Shǐ), @EdenaLow, @yummymummyasia, @mochachocolata and Wilson from WOM to try the dishes of Da Dong once again. Mandarin Oriental has invited the Da Dong team from Beijing to host meals at the hotel's Man Wah Restaurant during the week of 11 - 17 April 2011. Was it better than my previous experience? Definitely but to be fair, the meal I had was somewhat tailored for us so do treat this as a preview of what's on the menu. I do hope the Da Dong team can proudly depart knowing that simple elegant presentation they did for their Mandarin Oriental visit trump extravagance back home by miles.
Our 9-course meal started with a trio of Goose Liver in Aspic, Shredded Duck Wings Sichuan Style, Chinese Yams with Preserved Plum. We were told to start from the right with the Chinese yam with preserved plum. Prepared like a serving of ice cream, it came with two types of yam, the purple and the Chinese yam, both mashed of course. The marmalade on top, while bittersweet in flavor, gave the yam a rather sweet flavor, a very sweet start indeed.
Next we moved onto the center piece which was the Goose Liver in Aspic. In addition to the lovely presentation, the piece was an interesting marriage of both flavors and textures. Soft and mushy in the center while firmer layer aspic. Savory liver with slight tangy from the mango.
The last of the trio was the Shredded Duck Wings Sichuan Style. As the name suggests, it was quite spicy for my liking. Flavors were distinct despite the spiciness.
Next was the Duck tongue and morel mushroom soup. Don't be afraid of the duck tongues, they are just like ox tongue in some respects. Very soft yet slightly gluey in terms of texture. The soup itself was rich and deep in taste. I like!
It was time for the Da Dong "Super Lean" Roast Duck! According to the chef, the Da Dong Super Lean Roast Duck here followed that of the Beijing style which means the duck tends to be small in size. In order to ensure consistency, their ducks are directly from Beijing as being told.
The special sauces were served on plates which I assumed were shipping from their Beijing outlets.
The separate cuts of skins and meats were piled up and served in a single dish.
Since the duck was rather lean and small, one would assume the meat can be quite dry from the roasting but here the meat was quite moist and tender as well as quite flavorful. Truly lean if you prefer that, I sort of prefer some fat. :) ... unlike the one i had in the Beijing outlet which was rather bland, I did enjoy this one very much. (However, somehow both dishes of sliced duck looked SO different while they were from the SAME duck. I am still a bit puzzled for this as you can see form the pictures provided.)
The Chinese pancakes were worth noting for its very chewy, firm to the bite texture. Steamed and being heated as we chew away, a nice touch indeed. (not being served like this back in Beijing!)
While not a dish for everyone, Chef Dong's braised sea cucumber was one of my favorite dishes on the day. Sea cucumber is a Chinese delicacy while it seems not very popular in the Western culinary world, even not so popular from New Zealand where most of the current sea cucumbers are harvested. Braised for many hours, it lived up to its expectation with rich flavors and soft and glutinous. Thumbs up! The presentation was wonderful, simple and elegant, no extravagant large plate with useless decoration. The little round item along the plate was a caramelized onion was which quite interesting in terms of texture as well.
Sautéed Four Delicacies was next which consisted of duck gizzards as well as duck pieces. with hints of sweetness on the coating, a rather appetizing dish if you ask me. There were tiny jelly cubes on the side and make sure you try them because one was Champagne and the other one was very sour plum, an interesting mix.
Braised cabbage with chestnut was truly a surprised to me. It looked quite unexciting but the soup which the cabbages were sitting in was the gem! Extremely rich, creamy and flavorful with hints of Saffron, I drank it like a cup of tea!
Goose liver fried rice. While it sounded boring, I quite enjoyed the flavors. With tiny diced goose liver, just the right amount was used so not overly savory close to the end of the meal.
The soup in the Sweet Red Bean Glutinous Dumplings in Coconut was very light which was actually quite good because overly rich and creamy sweet soup at the end of the meal would not make it any better.
I also liked the red bean dumplings because the fillings were surprisingly not too sweet.
We ended the feast with a set of 4 traditional Beijing snacks, namely, Sugar-Coated Fruits and Dandelion, Sweet Rice Dumpling, Sweet Yellow Bean Cake and Fresh Milk Roll. They were all so very sweet if you ask me! I have a sweet tooth but still too sweet for me perhaps because I had so many savory items before my taste buds were rather sensitive to such a sudden change in flavors.
- Roast Peking Duck - moist and tender, meat remain flavorful compared with many peking ducks in Hong Kong.
- Braised cabbage with chestnut - Not a big fan of of chestnut but the star of this dish was the cabbage! the soup was rich, creamy with hints of Saffron, thumbs up!
- The traditional Beijing snacks at the end were quite sweet, at least for my personal liking.
Avg Spending: Thanks for Mandarin Oriental's invitation for this tasting. Hurry and book your tables if Peking Duck is a thing for you :)
Man Wah Restaurant
25/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
5 Connaught RoadCentral
Tel: +852 2825 4003
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