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
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss