Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Great China Redux

I can safely say that Great China is my favorite Chinese restaurant. We went back there last weekend with U, and the Peking duck was absolutely mindboggling. I'm going to try to make it sometime this week - probably Thursday->Friday (yes, that's two days - it air-dries overnight), but I know I'm not going to achieve the sheer majesty that is the Peking duck from Great China.

We also had the Ong-Choy with Garlic Sauce (which was good, but more or less what you'd expect), and the Walnut Prawns, which I'm sure you're thinking is the dish you'd order if you're an ignorant foreigner. Well, fine - be that as it may, we got them because everyone's said they were spectacular, and guess what? Everyone was right.

It's hard to describe something when its main selling point is that its flavors are perfectly balanced. It was sweet, but not cloying. The mayonnaise-based sauce was creamy without being overpowering. There was a hint of orange that was welcome, and the walnuts themselves were very subtly candied, without being actually turned into candy.

The large prawns were perfectly fried, the batter crisp despite the sauce. The sweetness of the sauce complemented the sweet, meaty prawns. The crunch of the batter contrasted nicely with the texture of the prawns, and the creaminess of the sauce. I know, I'm sorry - I just don't have the vocabulary to actually describe this.

But if you imagine the dish as a balance of sweet, savory, crunchy, smooth, citrusy, nutty - each of those is a spinning plate, this dish balanced them all, and kept them all spinning at the same time, where every other place I've ever eaten at ends in a catastrophe of shattered porcelain.

This is hands down the best duck you'll ever have, and every single thing I've had there so far has been spectacular. For things I've eaten elsewhere, Great China's versions of those dishes are far, far superior. For things I've never had anywhere else (the 'Double Skin', or the 'Ants on a Tree') the dishes have been delicious, interesting, complex, and entirely worthwhile.

If I ate there every week, I could be satisfied, I would suspect, for years.


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