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Duck de Chine

1949 Jin Bao Jie, 98 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District , Beijing, China

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There are two branches of Duck de Chine in Beijing, one in the Hidden City and this quite new one, a short walk from the Regent Hotel (as we discovered when our taxi driver gave up bothering to try and find it, despite having the exact address carefully written out in Chinese characters, and dumped us at the Regent instead). The decor is very smart, with automatic sliding doors revealing a dining room set around a courtyard. Tables were well spaced, and there was plenty of black lacquer as well as vast numbers of waiting staff.

The wine list had choices such as Nederburg Manor House Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at CNY 380 (£36) for a wine that retails in the UK at £6, Marque de Riscal Reserva 2005 at CNY 750 (£72) for a wine that would set you back around £13 in the UK, and Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse 2008 at CNY 1,000 (£96) for a wine that costs around £16 in a UK shop.

A hot and sour duck soup was excellent, avoiding the cloying texture that is often a problem with this dish, this version having clean flavour and bold spicing (14/20). However the supposed highlight of the meal, the Peking duck, brought to the table with much ceremony, was a let-down. The meat was pleasant, the skin reasonably crisp, but although certainly better than something you would find in a London Chinatown joint, this was a long way from the very best of its kind (for which you can try Made in China instead). This was served with the usual pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce, which were fine, but overall this was an anticlimax (14/20).

We also tried some steamed dumplings, both har gau and pork dumplings, which were distinctly ordinary. The dumpling itself of the har gau had disappointing texture though a nicely cooked prawn filling, while the pork version had a decent filling but again rather clumsy dumpling (12/20). Chicken spring rolls had insufficient filling relative to the rather basic batter encasing it (11/20).

The best dish of the evening was the Szechuan style prawns, which featured fresh Szechuan peppers as well as carefully cooked prawns and some nuts mixed in with the prawns. I though the spicing here was lively and accurate (15/20).

The bill came to CNY 816 (£78) per person, and this included sharing one of their pricy wines, so if you just had beer or tea you could eat for much less. Service was very attentive, and indeed there were vast numbers of staff in relation to the number of diners. Perhaps my expectations were too high here based on its reputation, but I found Duck de Chine merely quite good rather than anything more than that, and in particular the Peking duck here seemed nothing remarkable.

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  • Nelson Zhou

    Should go the one in Sanlitun for your next visit, which is the original restaurant established by chef Mr. Lin Senior and Lin Junior, the Peking duck is amazing! Same level as in Made in China, and perhaps even better!

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