Many foodies visit Da Dong to eat, but on a personal level I was more interested in Chef Dong’s food philosophy and his latest contributions to the Chinese Culinary Scene. Known to be a pioneer and always updating his menu, as well as since having caught on with the world trend and now partially incorporating molecular food science techniques into some of his recipes. The Roast Duck might be famous, but that’s a fixed asset that will always be here to stay. I was more interested in his latest food plays..
Da Dong has been Evolving annually.
They are locally famous for 3 different Types of Dishes they serve, and it is not their Peking Duck only which has contributed to their inclusion as the winner of No.1 Beijing Restaurant in Timeout Beijing in consecutive years recently-
- Original Super Lean Peking Duck (酥不腻 烤鸭)
- Modern Beijing Poetic ‘ Surreal Cuisine (意境菜)
- Braised Sea Cucumber (海參)
Apple and Pear Wood, Open Roasting Oven -
Most authentic style shops use either Lychee Wood or Apple Wood to roast their ducks as per Beijing tradition, which is hard to find outside Beijing. Other shops adhering to this method thus covered so-far include Beijing’s Made in China (長江一號) & Quanjude (全聚德), Macau’s Beijing Kitchen (滿堂彩) and 紅8粥麵 (Red 8 Noodles & Congee). Also Hong Kong’s 大都烤鴨 (Empire City Roasted Duck). There are also some other shops which I liked but haven’t blogged about yet..
Modern Chinese Restaurant Setting -
When Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck was filming the In Search of Perfection –Peking Duck series, he visited Da Dong’s boss for advice. Rumour goes that Mr Da Dong finally realised how the Chinese Culinary world is falling behind modern Molecular Food Science based cooking techniques that are being practised elsewhere… It gave him motivation to also improve his own cuisine, including the use of liquid nitrogen and sous vide machines in his shops nowadays.
Dragon Well Tea -
Tea in Pekinese cuisine is taken seriously, much like in Fujian province or Taiwan restaurants.
It is not a rare sight to see Specialty Tea offerings in such restaurants, including some mentioned above or at 京花軒.
Pickled Beef Tripe Slices - 老坛百叶
A Da Dong signature cold Appetiser, beef tripes are pickled in a Peking kimchi-like marinade. This is the 3rd cut out of the 4 Cow’s stomach compartments the ‘omasum’. This was slightly bland and tasted a bit too refrigerated. A little disappointed except for texture ~ 6.5/10
Sliced Pear Cake - 京糕梨絲春卷
Looked pretty with the Gold bow tie and all, but didn’t really get it in the taste, as it looks like a bunch of flowers but too moistened and pretentious, but didn’t create sparks. ~ 5/10
Bean Curd with Chinese Toon in Liquid Nitrogen - 液氮香椿豆腐
I liked the toon veggies but it was a bit too cold. Funny thing is I didn’t see anything much about Liquid Nitrogen here. If this is attempting to emulate a The Fat Duck experience, I fail to see it’s success or appeal. Tasted ok though. ~ 7/10
春茶小湖蝦 - Shrimp with Spring Tea
This was finally a dish I understood from the flavours structure. The river shrimp is in a briny solution but topped with a floating green tea sauce, looking like a structured cocktail! ~ 8/10
Bean Curd with Chinese Toon - 香椿豆腐
Some sad blogger arriving in from Hong Kong was obviously onto a mind lapse here, because this is just a bigger portion of one of the above trio appetisers. This performed slightly better and with red kidney beans and flowers for decoration. But it was still a little dense from refrigeration. Confirmed my suspicion that this looked more pretty than it tastes… ~ 6.5/10
Roasted Super Lean Peking Duck -
I need to re-emphasis on the super lean part because the version here is much smaller and less fattier that other versions. The chef is trying to make the duck crunchy but without becoming too greasy in the final outcome. This bold theoretical approach could well back-fire, but it achieved it’s purpose. The duck skin was cellulosed crunchy rather than thin biscuity crunchy, minus the fat. At a slight sacrifice to the slightly dryer meat than usual but still decent
With an assortment of 8 Condiments including Rose Heart Radish and Scallions, Pickles.
This certainly looked the part, and out of all Peking Duck shops this was the most impressive.. The Sweet Sauce for local Beijingers is also very important, here it had depth and rivals a good smoky BBQ sauce. Many overseas versions are only about sweetness, which are far off the mark compared to the real Beijing versions. In fact even the colour is diff…
Peking Duck Sliced 2 Ways -
One of the things I notice with eating Peking Ducks here is that the Duck Head with its brain is always given to the customer, sometimes with an additional piece of meat on the side. But the main platter always has breast and leg meat sliced diagonally – whereas the fattier skin from the belly are eaten as skin only. This is the trendiest way to carve a duck and it looks magnificent! One simply cannot find such expertly sliced Peking Duck, even at Shatin 18 in Hong Kong or Quanjude in Melbourne. Despite their direct linkage to the famous Beijing shops. ~ 8.5/10
Dandelion of Chinese Bottle Goud (蒲公英糖葫芦) -
A candy floss made to resemble a Dandelion surrounds a candied Chinese Bottle Goud, a common Beijing street food but here made into a prettier flower-in-pot presentation. ~ 8/10
Hawthorn Sherbet (山渣冰霜) -
This was a nice ending dessert and refreshing from the sweet and sour sherbet. Fresh hawthorn are used here and is such a Beijing thing - in HK we often eat the dried or candied version only. ~ 9/10
As mentioned, Da Dong does 3 Different Styles of Food here & is famous for Sea Cucumbers too - The presentation of the artistic food was thoughtful, I liked some of his creativities.
Some worked better than others particularly the desserts and there were other notable signatures dishes like the Goose Liver in Aspic or Sea Cucumbers I couldn’t order by myself in this meal. The super lean Peking Duck however had a superb ‘crackling’ skin, and came with the best condiments and sesame buns/crepes in general. This is what I would like to return back to eat.
Price: RMB $250
Ease of Access: 3.5/5 (Close to Subway Station, 5 minutes walk)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Mon to Sun 11am - 10pm
Address: Beijing, No.22A Dongsi Shitiao, Dongcheng District 100007