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Da Dong Duck Restaurant

Our first wheel in Beijing left us sticky, dirty, hoarse from breathing the bad air, and starving. We returned to the hotel, locked the bikes and began to ponder food.

Scott had been told by his good man, Casey Jacobs, that while in Beijing one must have a Peking duck at the Da Dong Duck restaurant. So he quickly located it on the internet, copied the Chinese onto a sheet of paper, and we took it to the front desk to confirm its readability. It was indeed readable, but, the woman said, also very far away from the hostel. It was a half an hour drive to a neighborhood beyond the third ring road. This was, we decided, no big deal. We flagged a cab, and rode hungrily towards the duck restaurant. Our driver, it turned out, had no idea where the place was. After this became apparent to all involved, he began to employ the Indian system of asking directions from multiple people and averaging the results.

Luckily the Indian system works just fine, and in no time we were strolling into the place. It was in a ritzy neighborhood, and the smell of duck spilled over us at the door. The place was elegantly lit and air conditioned. Though there were a good number of people waiting in a kind of narrow but very long anteroom. Despite the crowd, we were seated immediately.

Peep the Fork

I’d like to think it had something to do with the AsiaWheeling business cards that we presented. On the way in we noticed a wall full of commendations from famous politicians and celebrities that had eaten there. Not the least of which was his majesty the king of Thailand! We ordered two Mai Tais (why this seemed appropriate I have no idea… but it most certainly was). The waitress helped us to order exactly what we needed, two persons worth of duck, sautéed ambiguous greens, fried rice with clam, and an appetizer of fresh oat greens with tahini dipping sauce.

We feasted, and mulled over the trip, China, India, our futures, the world. The duck was stupendous, perfectly moist, with a tender and crispy skin. We were given thin rice pancakes and a variety of sauces and condiments. We used these to make what might be best described as little duck tacos. Both sets of greens were splendid, and somehow drastically different that the two million other greens dishes we’ve had had in china. I could taste the fermented bean cubes that had been added to the hot greens. And the tahini dip for the oat greens was so decidedly Chinese, one might think it to have been comprised of something altogether different from simple sesame paste.

Eating Peking Duck

The fried rice was fried rice, but with giant juicy clams in it. I, not for the first time, swore to learn to cook better Chinese food. This country has a relationship to food which is unparalleled. In india we ate well. And the food was really good. But with not much trouble, I had already been able to create many of the Indian flavors while in Providence, simply by pointing and shooting at Not Just Spices, our local Indian grocery. See, these Chinese cooks somehow coax so much from so little. There is no secret packet of spices which can yield the subtle wonders of Chinese cuisine. For instance, I want only to one day be able to make a simple Chinese greens that hold a candle to what I’ve had in this fine country.

The restaurant then started to bring us complementary deserts. First a frozen kumquat riding in a kind of yogurty whipped cream bath, then a fresh melon plate. And, as if to ice the cake, they accepted my credit card. This was good, since we most certainly had blown our shoestring. But you only go AsiaWheeling 1.0 once right?

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Comments

  1. Sunnie | July 20th, 2008 | 11:05 am

    Scott looks a bit old““hahaha

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