Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hyatt Chinese Restaurant

Sucy invited me to her impromptu birthday dinner at Hyatt's Chinese restaurant last Sunday night. It has been a Hyattic week--I had Sat lunch, Sunday dinner and Monday lunch at Hyatt consecutively.

The Chinese restaurant at Hyatt furnished in cream, black and brown is very pleasant compared to the usual gaudy red and gold Chinese restaurants. Once in a while, they would have a promotion of some special dishes and this month's special is Peking Duck and Beggar's Chicken.

The first to enter, pushed on a trolley, was the Peking Duck, all shiny, golden-brown and crispy. As the waiter cut out the pieces of skin (we all agreed with Su that we want some meat attached), I had a quick chat with the head chef. It is such a priviledge to speak to a chef and in the process, draw out some tips on cooking. I've made taro ring twice this month, and am almost there except that the 'skin' of the ring is not light and fluffy-crisp. After some research in an old cookbook from the 60s (the same one I based my soy sauce chicken recipe from), I have narrowed the missing link to adding hot boiling water to the wheat starch (tang mien flour) before adding it into the taro. I was overjoyed when Head Chef confirmed this! I also asked him the other thing I've always wanted to know: how to make crystal prawns. But wait, this post is about Hyatt's Chinese food so let's leave that to some other day.



Peking Duck on crepes with a sweet hoisiny sauce and scallions. My only complain is the crepes were hard and dry like tortillas compared to regular crepes for Peking Duck.

In Beijing, none of us went for a second helping of Peking Duck because the skin was attached to a layer of fat about 1 cm thick. When I swallowed my morsel of duck and crepe, all I could feel was fat and oil gliding down my gullet and my mouth was squishy with oil. Truly scary gastronomic experience. In Shanghai, the fat layer was slightly thinner, but still thick by comparison to the lean ducks we get here. The Chinese love fat, and the ducks used for making Peking Duck are forced-fed until they are obese. I much much prefer Hyatt's Peking Duck even though it wasn't as crispy or aromatic as those in China.

Stir-fried duck meat with spring onions.

The ingenuous thing about Peking duck is that one duck is served in 3 ways: crispy skin on crepes, meat stir-fry and duck bones soup. I like Hyatt's way of stir-frying the meat with spring onions. It was light and refreshing although I wish it was less oily. If I wasn't so full (I had just eaten when Su called) I would be happy to eat this with a bowl of rice. In most restaurants that serve Peking duck here, the meat is minced and stir-fried with chopped up celery, carrots, mushrooms etc and lots of oil and black soy sauce that make the dish very unpalatable. Restaurants here will often give you a choice of either having the second dish as duck mince stir-fry or duck soup so that you only get 2 dishes from 1 duck. This often means you pay mainly for duck skin.

Three types of mushrooms.

I found this a bit bland, but I reminded myself that maybe it's because all hotels 4 stars and above do not use msg.

Deep-fried prawns with mayo dressing.

This was very good. The prawns were fresh, big and springy. However, a drizzle of mayo would've still made the prawns creamy and yummy but totally coating it in mayo was an overkill, and I couldn't eat as many as I had wanted. Have you noticed the big portion? Is it usual or is it because it was The-Lawyer-About-Town's birthday dinner?

Salt-baked beggar's chicken.

Beggar's chicken is usually encased in a layer of dough and baked but Hyatt's salt-wrapped version was very impressive-looking. A mallet was required to crack it.


After cracking the salt layer, cutting the baking-paper, then the lotus leaf, here's...

the beggar's chicken. I just noticed that the bishop's nose was not removed...

You'd think that with the chicken so insulated by three layers of wrapping, and it cooking in its own juice, the chicken will knock your tastebuds out. But it didn't because it was rather bland again. Or was it because I was too full?

Seafood claypot.

Did not touch this at all. I had called it a day as far as eating was concerned.

Salt and chili deep-fried squid.

I ate one piece only and it didn't particularly impressed me. Maybe I should've eaten more but I was full. There was another dish, a spinach with wolfberries which was good. I made a mental note to try cooking that next time I buy spinach. Dessert was a so-so almond jelly tang sui.

What a luxurious meal! Su is a great cook with very refined tastebuds and we were joking that she should be writing a food blog too. Thanks, Su, and happy birthday! As I write this, I am craving for the Peking Duck. And the prawns. I wonder if Su believes in celebrating both her Roman-calendar and lunar-calendar birth days.


Mandy said...

One thing that I don't understand about chinese restaurants- while they spend all time perfecting whatever dishes on their menu, why don't they do something about the always boring (and yucky) desserts?! :p
hey, I have a relative who is a lawyer and her name is Suzy too! Wonder if they are the same person!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

hey, what time is it there now? wanna chat?? It'll bump my comments up :))

yes, i do wonder tt too. then again chinese aren't so into desserts and i do find tt after a big chinese meal, a few slices of fruits are more refreshing.

this is Sucy with a 'c', lives in Austral Park, has 3 lovely girls, last name Ng. is tt ur Suzy?? KK is tt small! But, hey, r u related to the Poon family who live in tt lovely colonial house in tanjung Aru near TABH?

Angeline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angeline said...

Hi terri,

since ure expert in 5 star hotels in KK, can u pls help me fill out my questionnaire? and anybody out there also. this research is carried out to improve the service qualities in hotels. ur help is greatly appreciated. i need about 200 respondents.

Thanks a lot in advance. :)

Precious Pea said...

Long long time since i last had Peking Duck and I prefer to have a bit of meat to go with the skin too. And what a brilliant idea to have it stir fry with spring onions. For your information, am planning to make roast duck tomorrow...wish me luck! ;)

Moodie Foodie said...

mmmm...peking duck....i know it's not fancy but my family loves the peking duck at ["jing hu/king hu" (tg aru) only coz it's so fuss-free and the crepes are quite thin. And omg, the duck soup is fab! i find the problem with dishes in china nowadays to be too commercialised. peking duck in beijing is terrible and xiao long bao in shanghai restaurants are atrocious (excl. the one at the temple)!

btw, was i not right about the chinese restaurant @ hyatt. quite a hit-&-miss huh?

terri, there is a place here in melbourne called "old kingdom" in collingwood which is very famous for serving duck. A normal feast includes peking duck (my little sister just eats the crepes on its own!), simple duck stir fried with bean shoots & spring onion, duck fried noodles or fried rice (u can choose not to have this and go for plain white rice) & lemon duck soup. Just thought u'd like to know when u pop down here on ur visit - be warned though, most bookings need to made about 1 week or more, and they close on Tuesdays (i think). :)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

angeline: hi, thanks for visiting this blog :)ok, i'll look into it this weekend. i'm no expert, just 'ngak sik ngak sik' !

preciousp: LUCK! but u don't need it. i bet Nathan's father will take over if you can't give the duck a good blowxxx--did i really say tt?? i've seen a friend cook crispy roasted duck, n he stuck a straw in between the skin of the duck and blew like mad n it ballooned. only thing is, i kept thinking: does tt mean we'll eat his saliva??

foodie: yes, tt's where we go for Peking Duck too, n it is pathetic i agree :))btw, u asked if we may know each other. which school did u go to? my girl was in ttss n then SI. what about u?

my daughter tried to make a reservatn at Old Kingdom when we were there last Dec n they were very snotty. they said only 1 table left, at 9 pm, Yi said we'll take it. then they asked how many ppl, we said a fam of 5 n they said we'll need TWO ducks. At--if i'm not wrong--A$80 each, why should we have to eat duck all night long? we said 1 duck is good enough, n we want to order other dishes, they said no. so i told her to cancel bc there's no way i'll be cowed--ducked??--into eating 2 ducks. Yi very reluctantly called them back, saying " But mom they are the best ever."

no matter how good a place is, i'm not going if they give me the snotty treatment.but er..can u blog them one day? just want to see what the big deal is :D

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

foodie: ya, ya the temple/cheng huang miao xiao loong baos are over-rated n only tourists are raving about them while locals avoid them, just like Mak's wontons in Hk.

Anonymous said...

gosh, that guy on the far left in the second pic looks like the thinner version of Kenny Sia!


Moodie Foodie said...

terri, old kingdom is quite like king hu, but i think the craze about it is that they have 'substantially' good duck. And the other dishes they have on offer is quite nice too. About them being snotty though, it's weird that I've never really encoutered the same problem. Last time we thought we pre-ordered too many ducks (3 or 4 for about 10 people) and so, we told the manager/owner we don't need the last duck, he was quite oblidging. But then again, in ur case, to make u get 2 ducks is ridiculous! 1 duck can feed 5 easily!

Don't worry, if i end up going again, i will try my best to take many fotos and write up a review on my blog about it. :) (Or I could always make booking for u when u come. I think the key is to mention that u know the owner, Simon - even if u don't..hahaha...that's what my mum does!! First time we ate there, my mum chatted to the owner briefly and already established that they were friends!)

Regarding my education BG....yeah i went to TTSS too and also SI. But I realise I don't know your daughter - by name or by face. She could be my junior/senior? I was born 1985. Maybe my siblings might know her?

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

I shall be waiting for ur taro ring? and Just help u to recall ( like Wey says, HOW MANY TIMES U WANT ME TO TELL U? HA!) , to make wolfberries with spinach! hey that's really an interesting one! pls show here !

Hazza said...

The duck we get here is also very fat. They do it well at my local too, and the skin is very crispy. However, I tend to scoop out the fat under the skin with a spoon before eating it as I eat it quite often and its not good for health!

Mandy said...

hey Terri, I subscribe to your blog, so I will see it once it's published. Sucy Ng is my dad's cousin. Ng family is my paternal grandma's side of relatives. I don't think she remembers me though. :)I am not that rich family la~ my surname is Pan. LOL~ What a small world.

Big Boys Oven said...

I wish I can do hyatt everyday! that will like living in heaven!

Precious Pea said...

HuH? Need to blow it up? Aikss..the recipe didn't say that. the way, the duck already ended up in our stomach..ahem...will blog about it soon.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

yi: i don't know how kenny got into cleo's 50 most eligible guys in malaysia--i guess it's who u know. but tt guy on the cover with single eyelids like noel is very cute.

moodie: how can u n her go the same school n not know each other?? she was a 1986 baby, 1 yr ur junior. ah, next time i'll call n ask for simon. thanks for the tip :)

denise: ok, will do dear

hazza: u know what, tt's what i do too, scrape all the fat off the skin b4 i eat. these days, i only want to eat not just tasty but good food. there's no point eating to fill the tummy bc the tummy's too filled, so i eat only what is worth eating.

mandy: i asked Su today n she said of cos she knows u, feigning annoyance, like "how can i not know her, i've seen her when she was this small!"! then Maries who was nearby said," Aiya, i go to Robert's house every CNY n Mandy comes home every CNY!" so everybody knows or is related to everybody here, a kind of non-actors kevin bacon factor. somehow it makes me feel like u r a long-time friend too!

BBO: but ur place is already like eating heaven. do u teach at home or at some cooking school?

preciousp: i think blowing it up was the old-fashioned wasy. quick quick put up ur roasted duck post. btw, if u get another duck, do try my duck recipe. so easy but so good, no kidding u!

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