I had DaDong, a fancy Chinese restaurant few steps from Bryant Park on my list for a while and was convinced to go there after hearing a conversation in the street from three friends of Asian descent claiming this was the best Chinese restaurant in the city. Famous in China for sure, where chef Dong Zhenxiang opened more than 15 locations devoted to Peking Duck, a dish that duck lovers should appreciate: it is made of thin slices of duck served with a crispy and fatty skin. I could eat that every day, but it is not that often that restaurant serve half a duck and getting a whole one would only work if going with friends, Jodi being vegetarian...So I was glad to see that DaDong offered half Peking Duck and did not hesitate to order it even if I found the price a bit high. As I did not order the whole bird, they did not offer me the same show other tables who did got, that was to observe the Chef slice thinly the duck. That’s fine, at least I got to try it mainly with the very thin crepes they brought, making a wrap with black bean sauce and scallion. The meat was good, fatty and crispy as expected, but unfortunately a bit dry, prompting me to put lots of sauce. It was good, but I was expecting to be blown away as I read this place was the best for Peking Duck in China. Still, if I were to go back to DaDong, I would get this dish.
We also tried other dishes as described below:
We first started our meal by ordering drinks. Jodi got a non alcoholic one called Lychee Meringue, made with lychee purée, coconut water, lemon juice and pineapple juice. Smooth and refreshing, well balanced. On my side, I ordered the Just Peachy, composed of Old Camp Peach Pecan Bourbon, vanilla syrup and lemon juice. Fruity and not strong, you could forget that there is alcohol in it...
They brought us some fried noodles that were good, although I would have loved some duck sauce with it.
They have quite few vegetarian dishes and Jodi wanted first to try their vegetables buns that are steamed dumplings. I am always unsure when I tried vegetable dumplings, but these were very good, even if they did not serve them some sauce. They were very tasty and the shell was nicely made.
Next was the Chinese broccoli and morel mushrooms served with garlic and a yellow wine sauce. Good but I wish there were more morel mushrooms.
The last vegetarian dish we tried was the DaDong braised eggplant that were just ok. I love eggplant but was not that thrilled about the dish, wondering how they made it.
A truly interesting dish was the squid ink soup with tofu threads and truffle. I love squid and squid ink, especially in pasta or rice, and it was the first time I saw a squid ink soup on a menu. I was so excited that I almost forgot to take a photo of it! I did after the first spoonful of it that was divine: it was thick, smooth and decadent, the truffle giving an earthy taste to it. I was just scared while eating it that my white shirt would not survive.
Last was dessert. We hesitated a bit as they have quite unusual desserts but finally settled for the crispy chocolate rice pudding. It was like rice pudding arancini, crispy on the outside and filled with the chocolate rice pudding on the inside. I found it ok, the passion fruit and mandarin overpowering it a bit.
So overall I was a bit disappointed with DaDong: I thought we would have one of those memorable culinary experiences that truly define a restaurant’s fame. It was not the case. The food was good but not worth the price and I found the service spotty, surprising for this type of restaurants. I’ll pass or wait some time before going back to see if it changes.
Enjoy (I did)!
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DaDong- 3 Bryant Park, New York City, NY