Sunday, September 26, 2010
Made in China -- Beijing's Best Peking Duck
Well of course, you might think -- but in this case Made in China is not a description but the name of a restaurant in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Beijing.
We once spent (a very very cold) New Year in Beijing where the temperature was at a steady -3C but the duck dinner we had in Made in China warmed the very cockles of our hearts (not to mention, clogged our aortas and ventricles too).
I was looking for a special restaurant to celebrate the holidays in while in Beijing and came upon a lot of good reviews for Made in China in various blogs and travel sites.
I checked out the hotel website and learned that Made in China featured Beijing and northern Chinese cuisine and the specialties were Peking Duck and Beggar's Chicken. Since we would be visiting during the very busy holiday season, I sent off an e-mail for reservations a good month in advance. Response was swift and very polite -- they even offered to pre-order our duck so it would be waiting when we arrived.
When we finally got to Beijing, we were all looking forward to our Peking duck dinner(s) -- we had scheduled a few, along with Made in China at the Hyatt, we also made sure we would have duck in other, less high-end places.
The day of duck reckoning arrived. We were coming from a full day of sightseeing so we were famished. The windy and cold walk along Wangfujing to the Grand Hyatt was little discomfort to bear for the feasting we were anticipating.
And indeed what an experience it was! While Made in China is a very popular and busy restaurant in the hotel, both with locals, hotel guests and tourists, we were quickly led to our reserved table -- in a very prime spot overlooking the open kitchens where we could see the chefs slicing, cooking, roasting, wok-ing.
Since it was the holiday season, the restaurant was full but still very comfortable. Waitstaff were efficient and not once did we notice any delay in the service. The ambience was modern and minimalist and very contemporary.
The waiter recommended a light appetizer of vegetables with miso and steamed dumplings to go with the duck. Our Peking duck dinner would be served two ways -- sliced with pancakes and hoisin sauce and the bones would go into duck soup which would be served at the end of the meal.
Our duck was brought out within minutes after we finished our appetizers. Reddish brown, gleaming and glistening -- it was offered up for our admiration before the waiter started to very deftly slice it up.
What a duck it was -- crisp skin, not too much fat but just enough for a juicy mouthful. The duck was cooked perfectly and each slice practically melted in a pool of umami-goodness in your mouth.
The pancakes were freshly made, very light and soft. After the duck had been completely decimated, they brought it back to the kitchen and it came out reincarnated as piping hot soup in bamboo "mugs".
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal -- and the soup definitely kept us a little warmer in -7C weather as we walked back to our hotel.