Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant 全聚德 - Qianmen - Beijing, China


Continuing on with the China travel posts, we now move onto the city of Beijing. The city I have wanted to visit since I was a child.  Beijing is the capital city of China and a highly populated city behind Shanghai. It retains a lot of the old and ancient architecture whilst also combining the new and modern.



We stayed here for a total of five days.  Visiting the tourist sites was part of our agenda which included places such as the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and The Great Wall of China to name a few. 


A city so rich in culture it’s fascinating to be able to witness this in a span of a week. Seeing the Great Wall of China was beyond my imagination. The sheer size and scale of it cannot just be observed in pictures. It’s part of the Seven Wonders of the World for a reason and if you haven’t been, do attempt to make a visit to this historical site. 

When one asks what to eat in Beijing, the answer would usually be along the lines of Peking duck. It originates from Beijing and is the one thing that must be eaten when one is in town. There are an abundance of restaurants to choose from and choosing one might be quite a challenge. From my research, these three places including ‘Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant’, ‘Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant’ and ‘Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant’ have rated highly on a number of lists.  

The Chinese people and even tourists are willing to queue for good food. If there is a queue at the front of a restaurant, that says a lot.


So on a wet and miserable night, we braved the rain and lined up for Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.


There is the restaurant on one side and there is an express restaurant on the other which serves only the Peking Duck and side dishes. We joined the line for the express and waited for about 15 minutes before getting a table.


It’s one of the oldest establishments, having opened since 1864.  There are multiple branches across China with the original branch being located in Qianmen. With a history of over 150 years, it’s sure to be awesome right? Each duck is roasted in ovens fired by fruit tree wood which gives it a unique fragrance and taste.


It’s bright, noisy, loud and crowded inside. A casual restaurant that is by no means formal which is what we like. You get the local dining experience.

We queued up for the express restaurant. The menu is in both English and Chinese. The waiter could not speak English but we managed to point at what we wanted and got what we wanted despite the language barrier.


The ‘Pickled Cucumber’ is a cold side dish with hints of vinegar. I didn’t really like this as the sourness was too much for me but it’s a nice balance to the duck to be consumed later on.



We ordered the ‘Whole Peking Duck’. Each duck is carved near the table and one can observe the technique used to slice the thing layers of that crispy skin and meat. The waiter points at the duck carver and I quickly rush to catch a photo opportunity. 








Four generous plates of meat with skin arrive at the table. 


The skin is glistening, slightly fatty and crispy. One bite and the skin melted in the mouth. The meat is juicy and flavoursome. Oh so good!



A stack of paper thin pancakes that's not too doughy and just the right thickness. 


Shallots and hoisin sauce.




This is wrapped together inside the pancakes. 


They also provide a constant flow of duck soup, a refreshing contrast to the otherwise heavy meal. We probably needed a serving of vegetables to balance out the meatiness.


We enjoyed our first Peking Duck experience in Beijing. It met our expectations of what an authentic Peking Duck constitutes. I do recommend this restaurant if you are looking to have decent Peking Duck at reasonable prices.

Peking Duck restaurant number 2 post to follow shortly! The longest time we have ever waited for a restaurant. Was it worth it?

Where?
No.32 Qianmen East Street
Dongcheng District
Beijing
China

Opening Hours
7 Days a Week
11:00am – 1:30pm
4:30pm – 8:00pm

Website
http://www.quanjude.com.cn/

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Mr Stonebowl (石锅先生) - Burwood - Sydney, Australia


Last month my best friend mentioned that there was a popular restaurant in Burwood that opened not too long ago. By popular she meant there were constant queues during peak times every single day and we hear that some have waited up to 3 hours for a table. Now would you be willing to wait up to 3 hours?


Mr Stonebowl is located on busy Burwood Road and a short walk from Burwood train station. It joins an abundance of Chinese restaurants along that strip and with solid competition from adjoining neighbours, there must be something about this restaurant that attracts the crazy lines.



We went on a weekend for lunch to test our luck. While there were a number of diners waiting outside on the footpath for a table, it moved very quickly. Within 10 minutes we were in the door and squished on a table meant for two people.



I am a big a fan of the Malaysian/Singaporean and Hong Kong style of the clay pot rice. My initial reaction was that it was probably similar to this but it was actually the contrary. It isn’t the typical Chinese restaurant that one is accustomed to either. They have a wide selection of dishes to choose from but their specialty is the stonebowls. Your order is placed on a sheet of paper and after the waiter obtains the form, food comes out fast.


This is the most ordered dish here. The ‘Garlic Prawn with Stir Fried Rice in Squid Ink in a Stonebowl ($18.80)’ is a rather unusual looking dish with an odd combination to boot. I would usually associate squid ink with Italian pasta or Spanish paella, not in Chinese food. Taste wise this combination worked very well together. While lacking the crispy rice bits that one would expect from clay pot rice, it definitely delivers on flavour. 



The juicy prawns are deep fried in a golden batter and then coated in the delicious creamy garlic sauce. 



The rice had a nice and subtle flavour with no hint of fishiness.







The ‘Fried Tofu with Scallop and Vegetables in a Stonebowl ($14.80)’ was another surprise dish. The contents are piping hot and bubbling as it arrives at the table.  The soft tofu melts in the mouth and goes well with the squid rice.



‘Stir Fried Green Bean with Shrimp Paste ($11.80)’ was a mediocre dish, nothing special. That’s not to say it wasn’t good but compared to the other two dishes, this was simple.

The food at Mr Stonebowl is fresh and delicious with modest portions at affordable prices. I would definitely recommend this restaurant but either go before or after peak hours to avoid the long wait times.

Where?
185C Burwood Rd
Burwood NSW
Australia

Phone no. 02 8970 9605

Opening Hours
Monday – Sunday: 11am – 3pm; 5pm – 9pm
Closed Tuesday


Website
N/A

Mr Stonebowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato