October 2, 2022
Chef Wang Yu serves the restaurant’s signature Beijing Duck at Quan Ju De in Vancouver

Chef Wang Yu serves the restaurant’s signature Beijing Duck at Quan Ju De in Vancouver on Oct. 5, 2021.Taehoon Kim/The Globe and Mail

Title: iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck Home

Location: 2808 Cambie St., Vancouver

Cellphone: 236-477-7777

Web site: sevenrooms.com/reservations/quanjude

Delicacies: Fashionable Beijing duck

Costs: Beijing geese, $98; appetizers and soups, $12 to $138; mains, $32 to $58; superior sea cucumber, abalone and birds nest, $68 to $360 an individual.

Extra info: Open day by day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; heated patio, supply by way of Door Sprint and UberEats; geese require 55-minute preparation time if not preordered.

Vancouver’s flashiest new Chinese language restaurant would possibly supply many morsels on golden platters to gripe about, however its legendary, crackly skinned Peking duck is just not one among them. The roast duck is exemplary.

Quan Ju De, which opened with inauspicious fanfare in February of 2020 shortly after a jeep crashed by way of its entrance home windows at twelfth and Cambie, hails from venerable lineage that goes again to the Qing Dynasty.

The signature Beijing Duck at Quan Ju De. One in every of China’s most famous roast duck chains, Quan Ju De serves greater than two million geese a 12 months throughout 4 continents.Taehoon Kim/The Globe and Mail

Now one among China’s most famous roast duck chains – serving greater than two million geese a 12 months throughout 4 continents – the unique Beijing restaurant was based in 1864. That’s when an entrepreneurial proprietor poached a chef from the imperial palace, tailored a preciously guarded recipe for hanging geese over open flames and launched a royal delicacy to the upper-class plenty.

In fashionable historical past, Quan Ju De grew to become much more well-known for taking part in a pivotal function in Chilly Warfare “duck diplomacy.” Within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, it was the state-banquet venue of selection for premier Zhou Enlai, who hosted quite a few overseas dignities at his favorite seven-storey Beijing location, together with Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro.

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As we speak, there are 55 Quan Ju De associates in China alone. The primary Canadian outpost opened 4 years in the past in Markham, Ont.

However the $12-million Vancouver department was meant to be one of many showiest of all of them.

Each nook and cranny, from the banquet-seat cushions to the palatial bogs, is gilded in gold. The partitions are coated in Chinese language wooden block artwork. From the lofty ceilings, a skyline of Beijing’s most distinguished architectural landmarks hangs the wrong way up.

The restaurant is correctly referred to as iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck Home as a result of it was alleged to function Canada’s first 5-D eating expertise with immersive wall screens and projected animations – attempt to think about FlyOver Canada (or Shanghai) in a personal eating room with somewhat Ratatouille Disney creature dancing throughout your desk.

There are 55 Quan Ju De associates in China alone, however the $12-million Vancouver department was meant to be one of many showiest of all of them.Taehoon Kim/The Globe and Mail

The COVID-19 pandemic has postponed the iDen expertise. However the restaurant remains to be charging VIP membership charges, starting from $3,000 to $8,000, to be used of the personal rooms, one among which boasts an unlimited lazy susan on a banquet desk that matches upward of 20 individuals.

Extra lately, the restaurant launched Bella, a robotic server that wheels across the eating room to assist ship plates and entertain kids.

Thoughts you, these robots have gotten a dime a dozen in native Chinese language eating places, posing neither a menace to the human labour drive nor a lot notable help.

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On my most up-to-date of three visits, the one time I went with out Chinese language diners, the service was so excruciatingly sluggish, I sat within the restaurant for a full hour and quarter-hour earlier than I acquired a drink.

A short time later, after I requested why we had solely been served pea suggestions – premium pea suggestions, that stated, stir-fried in white spirit (baijiu) – our server, who stored disappearing for lengthy stretches, was apologetic.

“I believed you needed to be served in a fine-dining fashion, not with the dishes squeezed all collectively, Chinese language-style,” he stated.

Deliver on the opposite dishes, Bella.

For all its fashionable pretentions, which embrace an English-language menu, huge choice of alcoholic drinks and acknowledged intention to be a “fusion of conventional Chinese language meals with a North American flare [sic],” Quan Ju De is just not a simple restaurant for Westerners to navigate.

The five-spiced venison is theatrically served in a large goldfish bowl puffing with smokeTaehoon Kim/The Globe and Mail

It might be that we simply weren’t ordering sufficient of the posh menu gadgets – the A5 Wagyu, the superior Japanese 15-head-sized dried Yoshihama abalone for $360 an individual or the $100 caviar add-ons.

We did order a couple of of the extremely performative fusion gadgets, together with five-spiced venison, theatrically served in a large goldfish bowl puffing with smoke (tender, however may have been any meat as a result of all we may style was the nice and cozy, star-anise-inflected spice).

And on this event and others, I ate a number of modestly priced, humble dishes executed with nice substances and deft ability.

There was a deeply comforting Beijing-style flour-dumpling soup, chunky with recent tomatoes and silky egg drops in richly lowered broth; a braised mapo tofu with sea cucumber tingling with citrusy inexperienced Sichuan peppercorns; and calmly smoked yellow croaker, a Shanghai-style fish, deep fried to a mild crisp and sweetly glazed.

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However on the finish of the night time, after we cut up the invoice, leaving our server with a 25-per-cent tip, I truthfully didn’t count on him to come back chasing after me, asking what went fallacious and why I didn’t depart him something on my bank card. (We left the tip in money, which he hadn’t bothered to depend.)

For all my complaints, I do not need one unhealthy factor to say concerning the Beijing duck (additionally recognized, however not correctly) as Peking duck.

It’s costly, at $98 a duck, however not out of line with another Beijing geese in Vancouver, that are fairly totally different from the cheaper Cantonese Peking-style geese.

The meat is somewhat bland, however that’s the means it’s meant to be. The Cantonese geese are marinated with five-spice seasoning, which give them further punch. The Beijing geese, that are solely marinated with maltose on the pores and skin and hung to dry in a single day earlier than roasting (which makes them extra time-consuming to organize), don’t have anything to cover behind.

The Quan Ju De geese is likely to be juicier in China (I can’t say, I’ve solely tried them right here) however that’s primarily as a result of in Canada, they’re not allowed to be drive fed and fattened up rapidly. A very good factor, I feel most individuals would agree.

They’re solely served in two programs: with the crispy, golden-lacquered breast pores and skin carved tableside into skinny strips, which you then dip into uncooked sugar granules to pop the porcine fattiness; and in meaty slices edged with extra of that crackly pores and skin, to wrap in heat, whisper-thin crepes with slivers of scallion, cucumber and hoisin sauce.

I don’t know why the rest of the duck is just not served in lettuce wraps or stir-fried into rice, as is typical in Cantonese eating places. However I believe the distinction has one thing to do with the frugal, farmhouse beliefs of Cantonese cookery.

And custom – that is the best way they’ve been doing it in Beijing for 800 years.

Quan Ju De does, nevertheless, wrap up the fleshy carcass and sends you house with it. And for an additional few {dollars}, you possibly can order the gizzards or duck bone soup.

So there’s nothing actually to complain about. At the least not in terms of the duck.

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