DaDong New York | Poetic Culinary Creations
“Artistic conception of Chinese cuisine”
Cool summer day with a soft breeze
Dadong, translating from Chinese to “big Dong” in English, is a reference to the highly acclaimed reputation of Dong Zhenxiang, the Beijing-born chef and founder of DaDong. Already with many chain branches in China, the first U.S. restaurant of one of China’s most famous and influential chefs, DaDong, is located at Bryant Park, bringing all the attention it deserves and showing its elevated status which calls for an amazing and definitely hedonistic experience.
Walking through the plaza and up the steps, you will find the simple yet refined façade, with contrasting materials to draw in attention, especially its pair of formidably tall yet welcoming wooden doors. Upon entering through the held-open doors and greeted by the well-mannered host, the dim lighting, basalt walls with carvings, and all other details in their design shift you into a different state, one that is much more relaxing and comfortable, preparing you for the upcoming elevated experience. The upscale Chinese cuisine restaurant has a second floor with a rectangular bar, dining room, lounge space and an outdoor rooftop garden, which hosts live jazz music on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The third floor of the restaurant provides for a more faintly upscale environment for chef’s tasting menus with regular dining rooms, private dining and an outdoor terrace to enjoy views of New York.
The interior design showcases elegance and definitely a connection with its art, sculptures and the placements of many other details all resembling elements of nature, which do in turn help to create a calming yet dynamic atmosphere for a luxurious dining experience.
“transcendental” culinary creations are the visual metaphor of poetry on the plate
With the release of their new summer menu, inspired by the artist, Monet, DaDong brings about a new twist and injects an artistic and poetic list of dishes to its existing and expansive menu, ‘embarking the senses on a gastronomic journey from the table to the landscape of farms and nature from where the ingredients are gathered.’
Appetizers like the Salted Duck Egg Yolk and Rose Cake might seem simple, but they definitely hit the spot. The Scallop Sashimi, served with green apple jelly over a lemon with sorbet sided with edible flowers, is very refreshing. Imagine sitting in the hot summer weather, this would be the treat to have. It brings about the freshness and coolness to the summer heat, hence the addition of the lemon sorbet to the plate.
Every dish is presented like a show to your eyes, absolutely pleasurable and enjoyable, and can also become memorable for guests. Not only are there different techniques in how each dish is prepared from the main ingredient to the details, the amount of time and effort put into the plating design and presentation is evident. It pairs perfectly with the Chinese poetry that is assigned to each creation, adding on a poetic sophistication. The Tomato Sour Cream Bisque is poured over amazingly fresh scallops, topped with what looks like ikura, but are actually rose flavored pearls. It brought a charming and interesting sweet and floral taste to the tomato soup, balancing the saltiness and spiciness.
There are several dishes that should be tried at DaDong, and that is the DaDong Braised Sea Cucumber and Braised Abalone with Italian Risotto. The so-called slimy sea creature, after being perfectly braised, is placed atop young wheat grains and leeks, and sided with cucumber balls. Sea cucumber versus cucumber: the contrast of where they come from and their completely opposite textures; soft versus crunchy. The abalone, also cooked to perfection, has absorbed all sauces, making each bite into it, full of flavors and adding on to the richness of the risotto. And not to forget to mention, they freshly shave truffles in front of you onto this dish. The strong aroma of the truffles add on another layer of taste, leaves you wanting more.
And how could one forget the famous DaDong “SuBuNi” Roast Duck, the Peking duck? SuBuNi basically means crunchy but never too much or enough. The duck is served with sides of sugar, garlic sauce, sweet bean sauce, scallions, thin strips of cantaloupe and cucumber, pancakes and crispy sesame buns. It can be eaten in four different ways; wrapped in the pancake, stuffed in the crispy sesame bun, just the crispy duck skin dipped in sugar, and the last; being the most extravagant, a piece of duck paired with a spoonful of caviar. The duck skin is roasted to create the perfect crispy skin with the right amount of fat and oil in each bite. The cantaloupe, cucumber, and scallion help to relieve some of the stress the skin might have accumulated on your taste buds before you continue.
DaDong also offers superbly fresh seafood from its raw bar section of the menu. The Geoduck clams and Cherry Foie Gras are good cold starting dishes as well. The hot and sour scallop cappuccino is a great mixture hot and sour soup and cappuccino, with the essence of both still remaining. The Baked Chilean Bass is an aromatic dish, with all its flavors coming from the garlic, scallion, and peppercorn. The bass has a slightly crunchy exterior while the rest of its surface and interior are soft and tender.
Even when it comes to dessert, there are plenty of options. However, the Dadong Nata Custards is a must! Simple yet so deliciously good, with the exterior crust being super crunchy and flaky and the custard is creamy and not too sweet.
“I’m a Chinese chef, so my philosophy is to always focus on Chinese food,” Chef Dong says. “But, I draw upon other places and peoples, ingredients and techniques to make my food great.”
Whether you’re having dinner in a private dining room, at the bar, outdoor terrace, or rooftop garden enjoying live jazz music, it does not change how great the food is. Chef Dong does just that, giving a great artistic and poetic twist to his idea of Chinese food and cuisine, transforming usual dishes into transcendental culinary creations. Shown in many of the dishes, there is the technique of molecular gastronomy used to help introduce a new flavor or ingredient to help enhance the overall plate in design aesthetically and/or taste.