Below are notes from two meals in May 2006.
Easily the best restaurant we encountered in China. It is tucked away on the ground floor of the excellent Grand Hyatt hotel, and is famed for its Beijing Duck. The décor is very smart, with a long thin layout. When booking ask for a table opposite the open kitchen, so that you can see what is going on. You walk past a cabinet of attractively displayed vegetable produce, past wood-fired ovens and through into an open kitchen area.
We started with a very simple dish of braised cabbage in soy sauce, and as soon as I tasted this I knew that we were in a serious restaurant: the cabbage was remarkably fresh, cooked perfectly to retain crispness, and the soy dressing was very well balanced; this kind of treatment of vegetables is something you rarely encounter outside of top French restaurants in France (17/20). Hot and sour soup was also in a different league to what one associated with this dish: no oiliness, just crisp, clean flavours balancing the heat of the chilli with the sourness of the vinegar, excellent pieces of seafood in the soup and a garnish of fresh herbs (16/20).
Spicy prawns were also very fine indeed, the prawns large and fresh, marinated and cooked through very well, coated in a delicious spicy sauce (16/20). However pride of place goes to the Beijing Duck. The duck arrives at the table glistening, and is carved in front of you into a selection of the skin, the breast meat and the legs, which are served with the traditional pancakes. The duck skin was truly amazing, succulent, crispy yet full of flavour. The breast meat, quite light in colour, could have come from a 3 star Michelin restaurant; it was magnificent. The pancakes were wafer thin and the traditional sauce was also far more interesting than the usual. I do not think this could be improved upon, and so I have to give this 20/20.
Overall I would rate this restaurant 18/20, easily the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. We were so impressed that we cancelled another reservation and came back here another night on my first trip to Beijing.
Further reviews: 08th Aug 2011