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In the heart of Beijing, just a 15min walk from The Forbidden City…
... is one of the best hotels in town and also the best place for Peking Duck.
Image 3: Since they had a very strict 2-hour slot for early table booking, we arrived slightly early to avoid too rush a meal.
Image 4: A bar area right next to the reception.
Image 5: A nice contrast to have such a rustic setting inside a modern hotel.
An open kitchen area with four main stations: steam on the left, wok near the end…
... a dessert station…
... and of course the heart of the restaurant -- a separate section for their specialty - Peking Duck!
Image 10: Each duck was blown up and hang overnight in the fridge to ensure the separation between the meat and the skin. They do about 70 ducks a day and each duck needs an hour of roasting in their traditional wood oven before serving. Make sure you reserve a duck when making the booking!
The restaurant has a semi-private dining area in the cellar…
... and two private rooms at the back.
We had pre-ordered a selection of dishes including a duck of course.
Image 15: Interesting, the symbols on the glass holder were actually the four Chinese characters of the restaurant name!
While waiting for the starters, there were pickled radish and dried bean curd.
A neat plate of spinach with an intense nutty sesame sauce. Tasty!
Image 18: Steamed eggplant with a deep rice vinaigrette dressing. Nice texture and very appetising sauce!
Image 19: A terrine of braised pork knuckles. The soft crunchy texture was great but it didn't have much of a taste.
Image 20: We started to get excited as our server laid down traditional condiments for our long-awaited course - The Peking Duck.
And of course the steaming hot thin pancakes.
Image 22: Our duck arrived! Every restaurant has its own way of carving out the skin. Here, they took the skin near the neck and wings first as these are the most crispy part.
Image 23: They suggested to dip the skin in sugar before eating. Compared to other peking ducks I had before, the skin here was lighter and crispier without much trace of fat.
Image 24: Look at the other side of a piece of skin. Not only did the surface of the skin crispy, even the layer of fat underneath the skin were crispy and dried. They somehow able to extract all the grease. Remarkable! If I didn't see it carved from the duck directly, I would have thought they processed it in dehydrator!
Now the meat from the legs with skin. Succulent meat with contrastin skin. Beautiful!
Image 26: You can do it however you like, but our server suggested having this with garlic sauce and wrapping it with a pancake.
Image 27: And lastly, meat from the breast. These were 45-day old ducks so that their meat is soft and tender whilst having enough fat.
Image 28: We had the meat with Hoisin sauce. Initially we thought one big duck for four of us would be too much, but not at all. We had the whole thing within 10min! The minimal amount of grease made a big difference!
Image 29: After a long wait, this dried fried string bean arrived. Worth the wait though, it was crunchy; it had a good garlic flavour, and a slight kick from the chili. A well done dish!
Image 30: Another great dish - Honey Glazed King Prawns. These were not king prawns; they are jumbo king prawn! The brilliant part was that they were able to deep fry the shell so that the whole thing was completely edible! I had many experiences at other places where they tried to make the shell edible but sadly ended up not crispy enough throughout. They did it well here and the sweet sauce had a nice hint of ginger. Another outstanding dish!
A classic dish from the HangZhou region - crispy fish in sweet and sour sauce.
Image 32: It was very eater friendly how they cut up the fish. We could easily take a chuck of the fish with a crunchy skin on top and smother it with the well-balanced sweet and sour sauce without worrying about the bones. Never a fan of sweet and sour sauce but this one was excellent!
Image 33: This was supposed to be a duck soup from the remaining bones of our peking duck. Did they bring the wrong soup or what? I could only taste a bland soup, maybe with a bit vegetable flavour but no duck for sure!
Instead of rice, we got some dumplings.
After another long wait, our dessert platter finally arrived.
Image 36: This banana chocolate spring roll was warm and crunchy with chocolate sauce inside. It came with an amazing jasmine tea cream dipping! Superb!
Image 37: A plate consisted of cheese cake with apricot compote, chocolate mousse on brownie, and profiteroles.
Image 38: An ice cream bowl of lychee, rose, and a unique chocolate with WuLiangYe (五粮液), meaning "5 grain liquor". The chocolate richness and the liquor blended perfectly together! The lavender crème brûlée was grainy and lumpy inside though.
A mixed fruit bowl. Nice dessert but a bit difficult to share amongst four of us.
And finally, a beautiful mango pudding and a few pieces of Chinese liquor chocolate to finish.
Image 41: Overall, the peking duck was definitely the highlight along with a few other wonderful dishes. The food quality is up there but the service was a bit let-down. Even though this is not a formal restaurant, but I still expect a more smooth service in a 5-star hotel without the two 30min long wait in between courses!