Years after years, when it comes to Cantonese roast duck, we talk about the best of best at Four Seasons Restaurant in London. More recently, I have spotted another Four Seasons outpost – its third branch! – in Chinatown and during my last trip to Bangkok, Thailand I came across the vacuum-packed frozen Four Seasons roast duck retailed at Bangkok’s high-end supermarket Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon. For your record, one whole imported duck cost an estimate of £60!!! I have to admit, as far as my Four Seasons experience goes, I am not against their roast duck and think it’s delish. But, it depends on the day and the duck you get. From time to time, I come across ducks that are more greasy and fatty than other, which puts my appetite off. The reputedly bad service, I can cope with – as one should never expect brilliant service even from a high-end Chinese restaurant. That said, this post of mine isn’t about the roast duck of Four Seasons. THAT would have been boring. So, I’m giving you my roast duck alternative from the Chinese food haunt Bayswater where Four Seasons Restaurant first opened its door.
THE WORTHY RIVAL: GOLD MINE RESTAURANT
Gold Mine Restaurant is just a few steps away from the original Four Season and I vouch their Cantonese roast duck is as good or even BETTER than Four Seasons! The thin but fatti-licious grease layer is sandwiched between the crispy skin and the very plump meat. Not one bit is over-roasted! The sauce that came with the duck oozes out spices and the extremely rich sweetness that makes the duck itself so delectably moist, juicy and hearty. The lightly cooked Chinese Leaf provided bites and natural sweetness that undercuts and freshens up the palate. This isn’t much of a departure from Four Seasons roast duck. Of course not as it’s been alleged that the head chef at Gold Mine also worked as head chef at Four Seasons.
Indeed, the menu at Gold Mine is very similar to Four Seasons Restaurant but I find the dishes at Gold Mine better executed. Many of my favourites are Deep Fried Squid with Salt and Pepper, Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions, Veal Chop with Salt and Pepper and the one never to be missed? It is this Sizzling Aubergine with Minced Pork and Chilli. Expect chunky batons of skin-on aubergines cooked to the perfect softness. The real magic is that this spongy vegetable sucks up the best, the depth of the flavours of minced pork, spring onions, chilli, garlic and oyster sauce combined. One warning – this dish is quite fiery!
My head rating for Gold Mine’s Roast Duck says, “9 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “10 out of 10″.
For the alternative …. NEW FORTUNE COOKIE!
I think the roast duck at New Fortune Cookie, next to Queensway Tube Station and Royal China Club, is also worth bookmarking. Though this dish follows the same taste philosophy as Four Seasons and Gold Mine ducks, the New Fortune Cookie version is much lighter, less sweet and less fatty. It’s like having a health-oriented version of the same dish. The focus here is not on the crispy skin and the fat but the tender meat. That said, the chewy skin isn’t particularly appetising and I usually set it aside. Here goes ..
Other decent dishes at NFC are, for example, the crispy noodle with seafood and the stir fried lobster with ginger and spring onions. During my last visit to New Fortune Cookie, I tried this Chopped Mixed Seafood in Egg White Wrap. The flavour was quite subtly good but the pieces weren’t much of a bite size and things went all over the place once cut opened.
My head rating for New Fortune Cookie’s Roast Duck says, “7 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.
NEW FORTUNE COOKIE
Tel. 020 7727 7260