I didn’t want to leave China without eating Peking Duck, so after a day of shopping we headed to Quanjude (Huai Hai Lu, Shanghai). Quanjude is an old establishment specializing in a traditional method of roasting duck since the Qing dynasty and have heaps of branches around China – there’s even one in Melbourne! The restaurant itself was kind of hard to find …unless you can read Chinese I guess and see a huge gold tablet with Quanjude in Chinese characters hanging above the entrance. Beneath the gold tablet is also a hostess dressed in traditional costume with a huge headdress on (actually she kind of looked like the concubines we saw at Three Kingdom TV Park) She told us to take the lifts upstairs, where we were greeted by more hostesses before being led to a table. The restaurant is ginormous – like the size of East Ocean in Haymarket, decorated with kitschy red and gold lanterns and such and the atmosphere was buzzing!
For me, eating Peking Duck is uncommon, coming from a Japanese family – I think the only times when I do eat it is with Bill’s family. We were here for one thing only so we ordered the Roast Duck banquet – a whole roast duck, pancakes, scallions, cucumbers, sauce and duck soup. The waiter then informed us it would be a 40mins wait!!! until we would get our duck and suggested we order some cold dishes to eat before hand – none of the cold dishes appealed to me so we decided to order Shrimp in Szechuan sauce and Braised tofu and mushroom claypot whilst we wait. The shrimp were great to nibble on and so appetising, we hated seeing all the silver trolleys roll up and pass our table 😦 Finally after a 30min wait a silver trolley with a full, shiny golden duck roasted to perfection had appeared next to our table and we could smell the smokiness of it YUM! Then our personal duck chef came and skillfully sliced the duck skin off and deftly carved up the meat in thick even slices. Now on our table was three plates – a plate of crispy skin (glistening with what appears to be oil but it really wasn’t that oily!), a place of melt in your mouth meat and the last plate had a bit of both. The chef also used the left over duck and it’s carcass to make us a spicy dish, which unfortunately we were too full to really eat, only nibble on. The duck was delicious, flavoursome, tender and juicy wrapped in our perfectly steamed thin pancakes which were plentiful, not like the places here where they only give you like 10 pancakes. We both really felt like gluttons but the duck was so so good and filling – we didn’t have room for dessert 😦
Bill planning our next hectic day at the World Expo
Fried Shrimp in Szechuan sauce
Braised Tofu and Mushroom Claypot
lip smacking goodness
Taking a break from China related posts – A few weekends ago it was Bill’s birthday. Now Bill loves his steak, so La Grillade (118 Alexander St Crows Nest) steakhouse was the perfect option for us to go for his birthday. From the outside you wouldn’t know it was a restaurant as it is a cute little house on the corner, surrounded by perfect hedges and emanating a warm glow from inside through their paneled windows. Once you step inside the charming french restaurant you notice it is decorated with a cottage feel with rustic terracotta tiles, lamps on pillars and a courtyard towards the back. We were seated by the log fire place – very nice and warm on a wintry night and with a view of the open kitchen. Although the restaurant was quite busy, with a party in the courtyard as well, our waiter was very attentive answered any questions we had and we were well taken care of by him for the rest of the night.
Having an extensive wine menu, however not listing any non-alcoholic drinks we asked the waiter for our options – all the usual sodas so I decided to stick with water, however the waiter kindly offered to make me a mocktail instead – woohoo! and a few minutes later a pretty girly strawbery mocktail appeared. It was so tasty and refreshing (though I don’t remember seeing strawberries anywhere on the menu). For entrees Bill opted for Natural Oysters – refreshing and clean and ready for his main, whilst I ordered the Spanner Crab Souffle which was absolutely amazing. I was a bit worried it would be too creamy making me too full for my mains but it was so subtle with chunks of crab, beautiful orange fish bisque at the bottom, fluffly and airy souffle which rose well above the ramekin – it was perfect.
Of course we both came here for the steaks – I had the 250g Eye Fillet – my favourite cut of meat, tender and lean and Bill tried the 400g Bavette steak. Each steak came with mustard condiments and a sauce, I chose the peppercorn and Bill had the Red Wine & Mushroom (though we both didn’t use the sauces as the steaks were beautiful and flavoursome by itself). I have never had a steak so good – it was orgasm inducing and just to die for; cooked and charred to perfection, well rested and oh so tender it required no energy to cut. I simply did not want to finish. Bill’s was a flank steak which was so much more juicier and fattier. They were both amazing and hopefully we’ll be back for the Chateaubriand. The steaks both came with a side of Potato Puree – creamy, soft and light we polished the bowl off. We also ordered a side of Green Beans with garlic butter which were fresh and cooked so that they’re still crisp – just the way I like it.
Dessert was the easiest decision to make during dinner – the Tasting Platter for Two. It had a bit of each of the dessesrts they had on offer; an espresso brulee, almond meringue banana fritters, honeycomb ice cream with rhubarb syrup, apple crepe and a pecan creme caramel. Quite unexpectedly the banana fritters were SO light and not heavy at all and my absolute favourite was the espresso brulee and I also loved the pecan creme caramel purely because it was unusual. We finished the night with a cup of Earl Grey tea for me and Prince of Wales for him with complimentary petit fours.
The restaurant itself is charming, cosy and intimate fine dining without it being pretentious. The atmosphere was great with tables buzzing and the service was attentive and the food was just exceptional. La Grillade had gotten everything absolutely right – the atmosphere, service and food and we’ll definitely be back here again very soon.
Edit Unfortunately, after checking my statement a week later we found out that they had charged us three times the tip amount we had authorised. I had called them up and they informed me their dockets had been moved to head office so it may take a while to verify my story, two days later they called me back and apologised profusely for charging me for the wrong table. However, obtaining a refund would be a long and lenghty process so instead they offered me voucher, which was fine by me as it was most likely we’d return – but I still haven’t received the voucher in the mail and it has been a week. Not so impressed with the service now, which is a shame as it has left a bad taste in our mouths 😦 Hopefully I’ll receive in the next few days, I’d hate to chase them up about this too…
Spanner crab souffle, shallots, coriander, fish bechamel & bisque
Freshly shucked rock oysters natural with champagne rock sugar vinaigrette
La Grillade Premium Cut 350g Bavette Black Angus 300 days on grain with Grade BMS 3
250g Eye Fillet Yearling MSA 150 days grain fed. Teys Brother is located at Darling Downs region South Queensland
All the trimmings – Potato Puree and Green Beans with garlic butter
Dessert Tasting Platter espresso brulee, almond meringue banana fritters, honeycomb ice cream with rhubarb syrup, apple crepe and a pecan creme caramel