One of the items on my Beijing bucket list was to eat Beijing duck in the city from which it takes its name.
In my time in China I’d eaten the delicious dish a few times in Nanjing, but it just didn’t feel right. Just as I ate blue crab in Maryland and overindulged in delicious galbi and kimchi in South Korea, Beijing duck just feels like it has to be done in Beijing.
With that in mind, my friend Corinne and I set about finding the best place to eat Beijing duck without breaking the bank in the process.
We looked at a lot of blogs on the topic before making our decision, but ultimately decided that DaDong had the right mix of positive reviews and prices that weren’t likely to break my budget for the travels to come.
We made the right call.
What Made DaDong Awesome?
We’d spent a long day walking around the Forbidden City by the time we stumbled in the great double doors of DaDong, but if the staff thought anything of our slightly disheveled appearances or the dust on our shoes, they made no indication.
Far from it, they descended upon us like over-affectionate aunts to quickly tie bright red scarves around our necks. It being Children’s Day, everyone in the restaurant had been given a complimentary ‘good student’ scarf to wear while they ate dinner.
My dusty old Croc thongs and slightly sweat stiffened t-shirt certainly felt out of place in the simple yet tasteful decor of the restaurant, but soon enough I was settled in at the table with an ice cold beer to soothe the pain.
The menu at DaDong is insanely big. Corinne spent the better part of twenty minutes not only leafing through the thing, but also snapping photos of the dishes she might want to choose.
For my part, I sipped my beer and thought about how hungry I was. A plate of cold noodles at lunch hadn’t really taken the edge off after skipping breakfast.
We finally settled on a few delicious delicacies (pictured below) to accompany our half order of Beijing duck. While I’d been a bit dubious on some of her selections, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each and every dish tasted as good (or better than) the dish before!
The noodles were delicious, the vegetarian dishes were bursting with flavour, and even the tofu passed muster.
And the duck? The crunchy on the outside but wonderfully soft on the inside duck? Sweet Lord.
If my tongue had toes, they’d have curled. It would have needed a post-coital cigarette before the inevitable shame spiral following its tawdry one night stand with a Chinese beauty.
When dinner was done, we decided we’d treat ourselves and order a dessert each. We’d covered over 20km on our feet on a 31C day, so a little indulgence seemed in order.
We’d both settled on a little homemade yogurt with fresh berries, so were surprised when we were also delivered two other dishes: a cute little concoction that blended tofu, mint infused water, and pop rocks, and a plate of fresh lychees sitting atop a bubbling, steaming pool of dry ice like dragon eggs.
“We didn’t order these,” Corinne informed our waiter in perfect Mandarin.
“These are complimentary,” he assured us, gesturing to the other tables in the restaurant where children were clapping their hands with delight at the unexpected treats.
We didn’t need another invitation. We wolfed down all three of our desserts in short order.
A Delightful Duck Experience
Given how much we’d eaten, we were a bit daunted by the prospect of our bill coming – but were pleasantly surprised to find that it had all come to only 400RMB or so. Less than $80 for a large meal, and once we’d split the cost it was only a tiny dent in our wallets. Score!
DaDong was an absolute delight. The staff were lovely, the food was flawless, and the nice touch of a few surprise desserts only made it all the more charming.
I’m sure there are plenty of opinions on where to find the best Beijing duck in Beijing, but DaDong has my vote.
Does your hometown have a signature dish? Where should I go to try it?
Have you ever had Beijing duck in Beijing? Where did you go?