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|Address:||White Bear Yard, 25a Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA|
|Tel:||020 7734 3388|
|Price: £35.00||Wine: £16.50||Champagne: £40.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-12M Sun 11.30am-10.30pm|
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It's not the cheapest option but it ended up being a good last minute default. They do pretty reasonable dim sum too (not to my mind anywhere as good as Yauacha, or as cheap and joyful as New World or Dragon Castle), and their meats have always done the job (without filling my soul with any real joy). It's a big old place, a little prettier than some of its near neighbours and accessed over a tiny bridge past a concrete carp pool, just for a welcoming touch of clarse…
I think as I've been eating a fairly substantial amount of Chinese cuisine recently, my palate has improved slightly. There's some disingenuity as to what counts as ‘true’ Peking Duck. My belief has always been that this is what you get when the bird has been cooked, marinaded and airdried (as you'll often see in Chinatown windows). With the skin separated from the rendered fat and crisped up to a shiny, dark, plum coloured top sheet, it's eaten first with a dipping sauce before the remaining sliced meat is wrapped in tiny pancakes with onion and plum sauce. I'd contrast that with aromatic crispy duck (the type you tend to get in most Chinese takeaways) which tends to give you an oven cooked duck where meat, fat and skin are broken up roughly with forks and served together in those pancakes.
No garlic dipping sauce for the skin as you sometimes get with Peking Duck, just packaged pancakes and the usual hoisin, but I was impressed by the duck itself, with its soft fatty flesh perfect underneath shards of crisped marinaded skin.
Of the other dishes, shared BBQ pork was a touch too sweet and so juicy as to feel faked, crispy beef was similarly sweet, albeit with a good chilli kick, but neither would bring me back. There were some perfectly acceptable noodles and an excellent aubergine hotpot that probably would bring me here again though.
With a couple of beers and a few starters, we were looking at £35 a head. Not bad for what we'd had, but you can do cheaper and better round here.