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US first lady's family samples Beijing's best bites

By Ye Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-23 10:02

US first lady's family samples Beijing's best bites

The chef cuts the meat into thin slices, each having a piece of skin.

It borrows aesthetics from Chinese painting and miniature landscapes. Dishes come with poems and prose. He calls this "art-concept cuisine".

These elements have helped Da Dong enjoy good business despite the past year's general nationwide decline of high-end dining-so much so that getting seats often requires standing in line.

US first lady's family samples Beijing's best bites

What they ate at Da Dong 

US first lady's family samples Beijing's best bites

Top 5 roast duck restaurants in Beijing 

Dong says about a third of diners are foreigners. And they're not only there for the duck, he says.

One thing that sets Da Dong apart from other duck joints is that it offers an array of other dishes.

Some favorites of foreigners are kungpao chicken, Alaskan crab, candied apples, passion fruit pudding and "squirrel fish"-a mandarin fish sliced so that its shape resembles the tail of the mammal after which the dish is named.

One reason foreigners enjoy Da Dong's dishes is that the flavors are mild and the presentation is similar to Western cuisine, Dong says.

He has engaged in international exchanges with chefs from Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain-from where he has just returned after judging a cooking competition.

He says that, in the past, Chinese people's impression of foreign diners was that they don't eat meat with bones, and they like sweet-and-sour.

"But there are more exceptions now," he says.

"Foreign customers are more easy-going with the foods they eat than we used to imagine."

That's just one of the things that has changed about the outlook toward foreign diners-be they leaders or ordinary folks.

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