Leaving behind a sun-bathed balcony, stack of cook books and next door’s piano playing to catch the dreaded circle line did not appeal on the first hot Saturday of the year, even if it was to go and try Beijing duck that’s been fantasised over by many.
We’d pre-ordered the legendary wood-fired
Whereas I was half expecting starch and a bit of formality, thankfully Min Jiang is anything but. At the far end of the restaurant a family party is in full swing and other than that the place is full of families, friends and couples and it’s good, buzzy and relaxing. Beside us are three Russian ballerinas, one with wrists not much bigger than the chopsticks and I doubt they’re here for the legendary duck.
… to the beautifully soft, glossy slices of meat served with their finely sliced adornments; shredded leek, cucumber and sweet sauce, and garlic paste, pickled radish and
You can then choose from four dishes which incorporate the rest of the bird in some way. These include spicy minced duck with a lettuce wrap, salted vegetable soup with duck and tofu, fried rice with diced duck or fried noodles with sliced duck.
Though there's plenty to admire with the dishes, I can't stop noticing how clean everything appears and with the snowy white linen, shiny white crockery and glistening glasses, our food looks even more appetising.
2) The slices are small so you don’t feel guilty eating all of them and 3) The glossy, rich-coloured skin against the finger-width, creamy fat.
The meat tastes every bit as good as it looks, very sweet and succulent and it’s nice to try the slices with the various accompaniments, though the traditional sweet sauce, shredded leeks and cucumber is the most satisfying.
Though they're cooked in broth made from the duck bones, they didn’t actually taste a whole lot different to takeaway noodles to me. However, that could have been because I’d already had plenty to eat and wasn’t fully appreciating them. If you were ravenous and ate these first, you’d no doubt notice the difference.
Although there is plenty to excite with the
- pan fried soft shell crab with curry leaf in buttermilk (appetiser)
- steamed scallop with fermented chilli and black bean sauce (appetiser)
- Alaskan black cod fillet in roasted Sha Cha sauce (don’t know what the sauce is but love the name)
- Sichuan Double Cooked Pork Belly with Chinese leek
- Min Jiang seafood fried rice with salted fish and XO sauce
- Stewed pork ribs and chestnuts in superior soy sauce.
And if ever I’ve got £60 in my pocket with time to kill in High Street Kensington, I’ll be back in that lift for the native lobster steamed with Osmanthus flower in Shaoshin wine, shell off!
Min Jiang is definitely a restaurant I’d go back to, especially to make more new discoveries. Apart from the a la carte menu, there’s a set lunch menu for £40 per person for a minimum of 4 people, featuring the wood-fired duck, double-cooked sea bass with shredded chicken and sour plums and many more delights. There’s also a Monday to Friday express lunch for £19.80 per person.
And if you ever want to put paid to a grumpy mood in an instant, you know exactly where to go.
Royal Garden Hotel