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Min Jiang - Chinese / Szechuan

Min Jiang - Chinese / Szechuan


Min Jiang

Royal Garden Hotel

 2 - 24 Kensington High Street,

London, W8 4PT

Verdict: Best duck in the whole of London. Fact


It appears the time in my life has finally come when I must answer the burning question: how far would I go for a piece of duck? After tasting Min Jiang's house speciality, the 'Legendary Wood-Fired Beijing Duck', the answer is probably one my legs would not want to hear.
The almost-universal allure of duck and pancakes is one I would not ordinarily feel the need to write about. Min Jiang, however, has taken this restaurant staple up a notch. Brought to your table whole, the duck is accompanied by what can only be described as a ninja among chefs, who in the blink of an eye leaves you with a plate of delicate slivers of breast and an unassuming pile of skin.
Ah, the skin. Dipped in sugar, translucent morsels don't so much melt in your mouth as merely give a casual nod of acknowledgement to your tongue, banishing with their fleeting welcome all memories of the gristly fatty lumps often served up by Min Jiang's competitors. The culinary delights continue with the breast, which you are invited to wrap in pancakes along with your choice of two sauces. The Singaporean-inspired garlic sauce with pickled cucumber in particular must be tasted to be believed. The remainder of the duck is then served again according to your choice, our lettuce cups of minced duck providing a delicious distraction from the pangs of yearning for more skin.
The main courses themselves prove that Min Jiang is no one-trick pony. The Gong Bao king prawns pack a fiery punch yet retain their aromatic meatiness. The steamed vermicelli with lobster in egg white, meanwhile, deserves a special mention. My adventurous dining companion's choice paid off in a riot of textures, the bed of egg white providing an unusual yet perfect foil to the robust sauce and lobster. Accompanying fried rice, a guilty yet necessary pleasure, was almost a meal in itself but was still subtle enough to let the main dishes play their tune at full blast.
This is not to say that Min Jiang is entirely faultless. The starter of dim sum, for example, while still well-executed lacked the intensity of that served up by some of Min Jiang's rivals; and the decor, while undeniably bold and a great use of the limited space, may not be to everyone's tastes. However, with all that it has to offer - including truly stunning views of Hyde Park and the surrounding city, and also a fine selection of wines (particularly young reds) well-suited to the cuisine - there is no doubt that such minor gripes are very quickly banished by a very satisfied stomach. Quack quack.

Michal Chudy, lawyer, Farrer LLP

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