Plump, juicy, divine...the star attraction at Min Jiang truly is all it's quacked up to be

Min Jiang, 10th floor, Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London W8, tel: 020 7361 1988

From the 10th floor of the Royal Garden Hotel, you get a glorious view of Kensington Gardens and the Round Pond with its greylag geese and mute swans. But you're not here for the geese or the swans. You are here for the duck.

Like its two sister restaurants in Singapore, London's newly opened Min Jiang is dedicated to the art of Beijing duck (get used to it – the Olympics weren't held in Peking). They will ask if you want to pre-order it when you ring, and ask again when you arrive. It could get annoying, but for one thing: the duck is very, very good.

This is Beijing duck as it should be; with a bird weighing between 2.3kg and 2.5kg, between 45 and 48 days old, roasted in a wood-fired oven, carved with precision and presented with care and skill.

Ask most high-street Chinese restaurants where their duck comes from, and they will say "the kitchen". Here, the Hakkasan-trained manager Jason Li tells me it is from Silver Hill farm in Ireland, the same duck featured by Heston Blumenthal on his TV series In Search of Perfection.

The glossy, lacquered duck (£50 whole, £25 half) is brought to the table, head tucked coyly behind its neck, for the ceremony. First, the skin of the neck is expertly carved by one of the three specialist duck chefs and presented as an appetiser to dip into granulated sugar. Then the breast meat, with its half-moon of skin, is presented in precise, overlapping rows, with either a hoisin-based sauce, shredded spring onion and cucumber, or a more interesting option involving garlic paste, radish and tientsin cabbage. Either way, your duck is nappy-wrapped in divinely light, steamy, fragrant pancakes as you watch. It is so good – rich but light, sweet but not cloying, juicy but not fatty. The pancakes themselves are diaphanously light. I make my own at home, and I am in awe.

Much thought has gone into reclaiming this cliché of Chinese cuisine, with six different cooking options for the rest of the duck meat. The best is finely shredded and tossed in a blisteringly hot wok with slivered vegetables and thin egg noodles, but any of them would be better than the usual drab, bland, grey stir-fry.

Chef Lan and his team will no doubt become famous for their duck, but the intelligently tailored à la carte menu has a subtle Shanghainese and Sichuan influence, found in dishes such as tender, saucy Wu Xi spare ribs (£8.50) and a rather lovely Sichuan hot and sour soup a-tingle with chilli oil (£6.50). Vegetables can be exquisite, especially the babiest of baby pak choi cabbages (£7.50) coated in a light, fragrant garlic sauce. A gently cooked, unquestionably fresh fillet of sea bass (£18) is topped with a gritty crust of soy-bean crumbs; interesting, but not as successful as its Hunanese equivalent. There are also several quite contrived desserts, such as a silky jasmine-tea tiramisu (£7.50), and by day, a very refined dim sum service.

The natural match for Beijing duck is Pinot Noir, and the contemporary wine list carries a sufficiently duck-friendly, bright, smooth 2006 Wild Rock Cupids Arrow Pinot Noir from New Zealand (£38).

With its long penthouse space, spacious tables, fine linen and Great Wall of vases inspired by the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, Min Jiang is a light-filled departure from the dark, Shanghai nightclub style introduced by Alan Yau and David Tang. And it is different, bringing us a taste of Chinese fine dining, Singaporean style – meaning lighter, more refined cooking with less oils and animal fats; and a subtle clarity of flavour instead of wham-bam flavour hits.

Service is notably good-natured and watchful, with just a few too many solicitous visits per minute to be truly relaxing. But who cares about service, décor or views? You know why you're here. They know why you're here. Even the duck looks as if it knows why you're here.

16/20

SCORES: 1-9 STAY HOME AND COOK, 10-11 NEEDS HELP, 12 OK, 13 PLEASANT ENOUGH, 14 GOOD, 15 VERY GOOD, 16 CAPABLE OF GREATNESS, 17 SPECIAL, CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK, 18 HIGHLY HONOURABLE, 19 UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE, 20 AS GOOD AS IT GETS

Min Jiang, 10th floor, Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London W8, tel: 020 7361 1988. Lunch and dinner seven days a week. Around £110 for two including wine and service

The crunch bunch: Divine dim sum

Pearl Liang

8 Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, London W2, tel: 020 7289 7000

A great favourite of mine, for the highly refined dim sum, the reasonable prices (around £2.80 a serve), and the fact that you can book a table and skip the queue

Maxi's

6 Bingley Street, Leeds, tel: 0113 2440 552

The flagship of the Maxi's group has been doing a roaring trade in dim sum since it opened in Leeds in 1989. Most dumplings are under £2.50 a serve

Dim Sum

201 London Road, Sheffield, tel: 0114 255 0467

It's bigger than it used to be, but still the queues form every Sunday for Dim Sum's prawn dumplings, steamed spare ribs and lotus leaf rice (around £3 a serve)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral