Monday, August 6, 2012

Dan's House, Haymarket

The first and second times that I ate Peking duck I was in Beijing. Had I known then how much I was setting myself up for disappointment in later years, I perhaps would have started with something a little more mediocre. After an abysmal start to my Sydney peking duck experiences I steered clear of trying it again until I returned to Beijing a few years ago and revelled in more duck gold.

With wisdom comes the sad realisation that I can't travel 9000km whenever I want to eat an amazing dish (two fabulous dishes, maybe, but going for one would be a little extreme). So I decided to bite the bullet and start trying out places in Sydney to see if there was a Peking Duck that I liked. When Dan's house had an offer on a group buying website for such a duck, and I saw that their menu featured a toffee apple dish from Northern China that I also miss, I quickly snapped up one of the vouchers on offer. 

Beijing-style eggplant mash
Sichuan numbing chicken with fruit salad
Peking duck
Toffee apple

The eggplant mash prompted boy to mention that this was definitely a new experience for him. Here he was eating cold, mashed eggplant, but also enjoying it! The sesame paste really lifted this dish, and we both enjoyed it. The fried piece of eggplant garnishing the dish looked great, but was a little too oily and not quite crunchy enough for my liking. 

Next up was the sichuan numbing chicken. This one also proved to be a talking point, as we are obviously not well enough versed in modern plating. We wondered how to tackle the test-tube type containers that held the fruit salad. My best effort included pushing it all out with my chopstick, onto a waiting chinese style soup spoon, and then eating it all at once. Eaten this way, the salad was beautifully balanced, but if you attacked it in a way that meant you didn't get everything at once, you weren't able to enjoy how the flavours complimented each other. Ignoramus me did wonder why they didn't just serve it in one of those spoons to begin with! 

The duck, one of the main reasons we were there, was pretty good, but the duck itself didn't have as much flavour as what I've had in Beijing. The pieces we had included skin that was quite crispy, as well as a decent amount of meat. Dan's house pride themselves on the lean duck that they serve, and I could understand why they make this claim. The accompaniments were spot on, and the dish as a whole was a good start to ease me into trying more of this dish in Sydney. I'll let you know how it compares to other Sydney Peking ducks in the future!

Finally, the toffee apple, was my pick of the meal. In this dish, without test-tubes to negotiate, I completely appreciated the traditional dish with a modern-twist. It was the first time I'd had these toffee apples since living in China, and I loved reliving my memories of pulling the toffee-ed apples apart, dipping them in ice-cold water to harden the toffee, and munching away with glee. The spun sugar was an extra bonus, adding another texture to the dish.

Sadly, Dan's house suffered from what I now term as voucher-regret. Such eateries use the sites as a way to increase interest and get a bulk of cash quickly, but then don't seem to like that they then have to endure customers actually using the voucher! When I called to book our table, as soon as I mentioned my voucher status I was told that they were booked out on Friday and Saturday nights and that I'd need to book at another time. Unlikely. (I can say that because I 'happened' to pop my head in on the Friday that I did want to make the booking, and had to stop myself being eagerly ushered to a table). Once we were able to find a suitable time we were told, on ordering our dessert (the toffee apples), that they'd run out of this made-to-order dish. Usually not a confrontationalist, I really was too disappointed (and confused) not to speak out and ask how they could run out of apples. Realising that perhaps it was safer just to appease this grumpy woman, I was then told that they'd make a trip to Coles just for me. Excellent.

Dan's House
Dan's House on
710 George Street

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1 comment:

Hotly Spiced said...

Oh dear. That doesn't sound like a good experience. Finding a great Peking Duck is a challenge. I would have liked to try the apple dessert and I'm glad that wasn't disappointing. I tend not to buy those voucher books because I've often had that experience where the restaurants are displeased when you try to use them xx