One of the biggest difficulties we had in choosing a place in the evening to eat was that Beijing is so so big and there are just so many places . There wasn’t any one in particular really jumping out and saying ‘choose me’. I had done a lot of research before we went but what we read and what was were two different things.
During the day because we were touring we would just stop by at local restaurants and rely on Franck our private guide to pick things out for us. He really made our trip much nicer and easier . We went one evening to Bai Jia Da Yuan which was the home of a Prince in the Qinq Dynasty which has a large garden and everywhere is lit with lanterns.
It was very pretty I guess ‘touristy’ or ‘kitsch’ in feel though we didn’t see any foreigners.. Big stone lions grace the entrance of a long driveway and the greeters as well as the waiters and waitresses are dressed Imperial style . They sort of have shows intermittently in different areas as it so vast. You can sit either in or out and it was packed.. They even had a shop selling items. It is clearly popular with walkways and gardens and ribbons everywhere. Very over the top .Nobody spoke English so we did have difficulty ordering. Just pointed to pictures. The food was fine. I think you go more to see something different. Word of caution arrange your car back. We didn’t and to get a taxi back was nightmare, even with the restaurant trying to help.
There is one thing you absolutely have to do and that is eat Peking Duck. After all this where it originated from about a zillion years ago. It was served to the Emperor of China in the Yuan Dynasty. Apparently the original way to eat it was focused on the crispy skin with very little meat
There are so many places in Beijing specialising in this dish that is so loved the world over. We were overwhelmed with choice . So many different views ‘go to this ‘ ‘go to this its the original’, that we did have some difficulty in choosing were to go. But one place kept coming up over and over again. Da Dong. Its had so many accolades from something to put on your bucket list to being voted by critics as the best roast duck. We were intrigued and I insisted that Da Dong was the place to go.
I love duck in all its ways and there is no way would ever in London go to a Chinese and not have duck whether in Chinatown or a favourite Four Seasons in Bayswater. The later being a tiny restaurant that serves primarily duck.
I consider myself something of an amateur connoisseur on this subject and I openly believe I make sensational duck crispy, spicy, a la orange, I make it.
I like most people expect got used to the duck being shredded and served with pancakes spring onions cucumber and plump sauce. That’s the way I was used to and when I heard that Min Jiang the Chinese restaurant at the Royal Garden in London was serving duck that was very good, we immediately booked. I have always liked that dining room through the many phases it had because it has a superb view over Kensington Palace Hyde Park the Albert Hall and beyond. On reserving the table you also need to pre order your duck.
The duck served here was the first time I have tried it whereby they serve the crispy skin separately that you dip in sugar. I loved it.
I had no idea how Da Dong would serve it and I was looking forward to trying it out . We did have to wait some time for our table but the time passed quickly as we saw chefs bring to each table its duck held on spears then carve it for diners. It was theatrical and showy but very entertaining. I loved the Margarita here . I give them an 8.
The concept here is about innovation and cooking in a much lighter way but retaining taste.
The duck is roasted in a spherical wood fired oven and this makes the skin more crispy and not so fatty apparently. They served the duck skin separately . very thin very crispy and you dip it in sugar. I have kind of become addicted to eating it that way . The rest of the duck you eat the traditional shredded way with pancakes.
The staff here speak English and the menu was in English. But we had so many choices of duck that we got a bit confused. We ended up having some form of duck dinner were they bring a dinner based on duck.
We had a really good fun meal. l loved the spring rolls and green sprouts . The whole atmosphere was just one of relaxation and fun. I loved the theatre of the chefs coming with ducks on long spear and seeing the various tables having their own chef carve the duck. I liked the way they served the grapes with a lot of fanfare on a bed of smoking ice. This is very upmarket Chinese which is fun approachable and modern.
Its important to reserve here as its hugely popular with the locals.