Posted by on Apr 28, 2011 | 0 comments

DaDong Menu

Duck Heart

One of the things that I definitely wanted to try during my time in Beijing was roast duck. The word for this in Chinese is 烤鸭 (kao ya), which is easy to remember because it is pronounced with a very enthusiastic tone, as in: “cow, ya!” So we decided that tonight we would go to a fancy restaurant and order the famous Beijing Kao Ya.

The wind was really howling by this time. The sand storm was in full rage, and I wasn’t happy about stepping out the door into the cold and having sand blown into my eyes.

To get to the restaurant we took a taxi. This was another first for me. As I was to discover, taxis are extremely common in Beijing. Finding one is typically a matter of stepping out onto the street and putting your hand out. They are also very inexpensive compared to American taxis, which is a good thing given the vast distances between places in the city. You can count on them not to speak any English, which is why I was glad to let Yuan do all the talking. And riding in a taxi is the best way to experience the true chaos of Beijing traffic.

Mustard Spinach Dish

Sauteed Duck Intestine

Duck Carving

Duck Carving Closeup

Roast Duck Condiments

Roast Duck

Chicken Dish and Soup

Kumquats and Melon

The first thing the driver did after picking us up was to negotiate a traffic circle. I am used to the famous rotaries in Boston, but Beijing takes it to a whole new level. A traffic circle here is like a giant blender, where everything from pedestrians crossing the street to bicycles, mopeds, carts, taxis, trucks and buses get thrown together, whirled around the circle and tossed out the other side. The scene is so chaotic that it constantly amazes me how everyone manages to get through in one piece.

After a few more minutes of aggressively driving, weaving and honking, the driver deposited us onto the street where the wind practically blew us into the restaurant and we were escorted to a table.

The name of the restaurant was DaDong. They described themselves as “DaDong Artistic Conception of Chinese Cuisine”. The menu was very classy, with plenty of high-gloss photos of the various dishes. Every part of the duck was available, including sauteed duck intestine and stir-fried duck heart. We decided to stick with the classic roast duck. Yuan also chose a sweet and sour chicken dish, and I chose a fish soup wrapped in a pouch. We also ordered a vegetable dish made with mustard greens and spinach. To complement the meal I selected a bottle of Prosecco from Italy.

All the dishes were presented very elegantly on white plates and were quite tasty. The duck was brought out on a wooden table and carved in front of us. It was served along with julienned vegetables and a few other condiments such as raw garlic, and the classic plum sauce. It also came with those ultra-thin pancakes to hold the ingredients so that the whole thing could be picked up and eaten with your hands.

I found the flavor of the duck to be extremely mild, but the texture was exquisite, with the combination of the tenderness of the meat and the crispy skin. All of that was overpowered by the rest of the ingredients, however. The best way to eat the duck is with nothing more than a bit of plum sauce, maximizing the subtle interplay of texture and flavor.

The service at this restaurant was very underwhelming. The waitresses seemed disorganized and had a generally unpleasant and somewhat rude attitude. When they finally got around to opening the wine (it was warm when they brought it and had to be chilled), they only poured a tiny bit into our glasses. They didn’t seem interested in refilling the glasses, and when Yuan asked them to, once again only a tiny bit was poured. We took over the serving responsibility after that.

For dessert they brought us a plate of kumquats and melon, though we didn’t explicitly order them. This was a nice refreshing way to end the meal.

After dinner I had a chance to check out the restrooms. I figured that here, in an upscale restaurant, they had to have a proper toilet. But to my horror, there was still not a toilet seat to be found.

We took another taxi home, and when we got back we found that the gate to our building was locked, so we had to go around to another entrance. It was late by this time, around 10:30, and we were exhausted after such a long day, so we went to bed as soon as we got home. Thus ended my first full day in Beijing.

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