Thursday, September 24, 2009

Da Dong Kao Ya 大董烤鸭: Awesome Peking Duck in Beijing

Before going to Beijing, I knew that I had to have good Peking duck. It would be a crime to go to Beijing and eat crappy duck. The New York Times recommended Da Dong, saying that they offer super lean Peking duck. I was excited. I haven't had "super lean" anything in China, and since you're meant to eat the skin of Peking duck, I was convinced that this was going to complete my Peking duck experience.

I ordered half a duck, super lean, an orange duck soup (assortment of duck parts like the web of its feet, tongue, you get the picture), and sticky rice balls stuffed with black sesame paste in a warm coconut milk soup. This was an incredible start to my Beijing food journey.
The half Peking duck was carved at the table and the waitress demonstrated two ways of eating the duck: 1) wrapped in a thin crepe 2) stuffed in a shao bing (flakey sesame pastry). I bought a tray of duck condiments (8 RMB), which came with tian mian jiang (the requisite Peking duck sauce), cucumbers, scallions, garlic paste, pickled radishes, and granulated sugar for the duck skin.
Half a Duck
Free Soup Made from Duck Bones; Tray of Peking Duck Condiments
Duck in Shao Bing; Duck in Crepe
The Peking duck was sublime, but my favorite dish turned out to be the orange duck soup! What a clever twist on the French classic, canard a l'orange! The sweet-tart taste of the orange juice made the assortment of odd duck parts dance on my tongue.

Orange Duck Soup
I didn't know that the meal would come with a free duck bone soup, so I stupidly ordered 2 soups, the orange duck and the dessert soup. I didn't mind though, because each dish was made and presented impeccably. My dessert came on a plate of dry ice. It was heavenly eating coconut milk soup from a plate of billowing clouds.

Sticky Rice Balls Stuffed with Black Sesame Paste in a Warm Coconut Milk Soup
Just when I thought I had reached the end of my foodie trance, the waitress came with a complimentary fruit platter. Ahhhhh...the best first meal in a city ever!
Fruit Platter

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