The famous Bejing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant is back at Man Wah at The Mandarin Oriental for a special promotion period (14-22 April) and last month, the Mandarin Oriental organised a fun dinner for a few of us foodies to sample a some of their signature dishes ahead of their menu’s launch. I’d been trying to sink my teeth into their duck since February last year but the Food Gods decided I had to wait until now. And it was worth the wait!
Executive Chef Shi Xiu-song (石秀松) and Master of Roast Duck Zhang Hua-bing (張華兵), prepared an amazing nine-course dinner, which included their award-winning “Super Lean” roast duck that apparently has only half of the fat content of a conventional roast duck.
We were treated to three cold appetizers to start: sliced Canadian geo duck clam with Sichuan pepper, lotus root with osmanthus and foie gras, and bean curd with Chinese toon. The Geo Duck was slightly spicy from the Sichuan pepper, but not overwhelmingly so and it had a crisp texture. I loved the presentation – it arrived chilled in an ice bowl that melted as you ate.
The lotus root with foie gras was amazing. The foie gras was incredibly smooth and creamy and it went so well with the sweet lotus root. My favourite starter of the night by far.
The bean curd with Chinese toon had a startlingly fresh vegetable taste with a hint of a fermented chou doufu taste. Again, the presentation was gorgeous and for some reason evoked images of freshly mown grass!
Foamed squid egg soup doesn’t sound great but when it came, I found it to be lovingly prepared and surprisingly rich. It came in a little cup and looked like a peppery cappuccino! The squid was soft and was fun to slurp. We all agreed that a full sized serving of this soup would be too much, so I’m glad it was only a small taster.
The Special Main Course was Chef Dong’s braised sea cucumber. I can’t say that I’m a connoisseur of sea cucumber but this course was very good and I could see why it’s a sought-after dish.
The jellyfish with broad bean was amazing. The jellyfish had a fantastic crunch and a piquant, spicy flavour and I loved the strawberry’s refreshing taste that accompanied it.
The moment we had all been waiting for arrived in the shape of one very inviting, delicious looking, super lean roast duck. The duck can be served in several ways, by either dipping it in fine sugar on its own, wrapping it in a pancake with sweet sauce with sliced leek, cucumber and radish, eating it with garlic paste or having it in a toasted sesame bun with a bit of everything and a Chinese olive paste.
The top layer of the duck was unbelievable – the meat was beautifully tender and the skin, paper-thin with just enough fatty goodness, melted adoringly in my mouth. The pancakes were lovely, light and moist and I enjoyed the toasted sesame buns, which were a nice alternative. One thing I did find was that the lower layers of the duck were a little drier than I would have expected. That’s not to say that it wasn’t ‘tender’, but it wasn’t as succulent as I thought it would be.
Finally the last main course was braised abalone and Chinese yam with rice in truffle sauce. At this point of the meal, we were so stuffed that some of us thought that it might be sensible not to finish this dish. This thought lasted all of ten seconds, because once we started digging in… well, we just couldn’t stop. The rice was addictive, the truffle aromatic and the sauce was our kryptonite.
Dessert came round, and really, I thought I couldn’t be surprised by a new dish at this point, but I was wrong, because out came this fascinating lotus leaf congee. It was an arresting, fresh green colour and at first, the idea of having a sweet congee was odd, but I loved it and cleaned the bowl. So much for giving my stomach breathing space!
Four little traditional Beijing snack morsels followed: Zha Juanguo green bean cake, deep-fried Beijing dumplings, fresh milk rolls and baked Beijing dumplings. Out of the four, I liked the milk roll most.
To end this truly epic meal, we had a chance to have a Da Dong family photo with the chefs and the foodie gang and it was smiles and happy bloated-ness all round!
For the promotional period, there will be set menus starting from $528 per person for six courses, going up to $2188 per person for the exclusive 12-course gala dinner on 20 April, when Mr Da Dong himself will be personally hosting and guests will receive a copy of his cookbook Da Dong’s Artistic Conception of Chinese Cuisine.
Man Wah, 25/F, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2825 4003
Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant, 1-2/F, Nanxincang International Plaza, 22A Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District 东城区东四十条甲22号南新仓国际大厦1~2楼(立交桥西南角), Daily 11am-10pm, 5169 0329
Check out more food-related writings from Michelle on her blog, Chopstixfix!