Michelin starred Chinese restaurant in Beijing
Dadong is a chain of well-respected Chinese restaurants in Beijing. It appears that the four in the group has been reduced to two at the time of my visit and this branch was recommended to us from the Peninsula hotel. By all rights, it was a lucky seat that we gained as it is still remarkably popular with numerous accolades which are proudly displayed over the entrance with photos to the testament. The prize of this meal was the Peking duck and whilst the restaurant has some swish courses mirroring the feel of the venue itself, some of these were more style than impact for me, however, the duck was expertly done and you are unlikely to come across one prepare and cut to this level in many places further West. Editor’s note: since this visit, the first Michelin guide to Beijing was published and awarded this restaurant a Michelin star among the first few.
‘Cherry liver’ was a very attractively designed dish as came in the shape of spheres that were coated in hawthorn gel making them looking like berries. This was a very nice idea and they looked fabulous but the parfait was grainy in texture with a poor liver flavour and the surrounding gel was quite bitter making this, unfortunately, an absolute flop of a parfait dish. A seared foie gras dish was also tried and this was a better flavour of foie that was cooked well. Whatever was done to the cold parfait version had not come off, unfortunately.
Crispy prawns were pretty much that and the light coating was pleasant but the prawns themselves had no inherent sweetness and just came across as overly chewy. However, all this fell into insignificance when the duck arrived. This was wonderfully prepared and in a break with the Western norm of just having plum or hoisin sauce to add, here in Beijing this is taken more seriously and an array of accompaniments are offered: dark sweet sauce (akin to hoisin), white sugar, shallots, garlic puree, pickles, radish, cucumber and crispy crepes to have the filling inside as opposed to thin pancake.
I was surprised just how well the garlic puree worked with the duck as well as the pickles instead of the time-honoured cucumber strips and the authentic Beijing suggestion of having in a small, rounded and brittle crepe was (almost looking like a mini burger when ready) was a very pleasing variation with the thin, bread-like case. I was actually told off by the chef for putting too much dark sweet sauce in my pancakes which was a first and actually this was very good he did so as I do have a habit of overdoing it on the sauce from time to time (others will testify to this being the understatement of the century so far).
Strawberries were served on ice for every table and looked good but were patently not even close to the levels experienced in Japan and if fruit is going to be given on its own I would say it needs to be pretty good produce. The glazed apple fritters were comparatively ok, the batter being thick but the coating delicate, however, the candied fruits on a stick were not a success with the outer sugar being as hard as rock sticks at a funfair and stuck in the crevasses of every tooth in the mouth that had survived.
£70 a head with wine in a decanter to share represented a fair enough price but this was mainly for the quality of the duck. Regrettably, virtually all the other dishes were an example (to me anyway) of style being more important than overall texture and flavour which they can probably get away with in comparison to most surrounding restaurants of the area but certainly not in comparison to how it can be done. A lovely experience for the duck though.
Food Grade: 67%
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