Seven Cantonese chefs from China are cooking up centuries-old recipes at the Grand Hyatt Manila’s newly opened restaurant with an exceptional Peking Duck as the centerpiece.
The soft opening of the Grand Hyatt was already drawing the dining public to The Grand Kitchen buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. People were marking their preferred tables at The Lounge and The Cellar had regular clientele coming for the house specialties. Much anticipation was building up for the opening of the Chinese restaurant on the fifth floor. Word had been spreading that the flavors of the Middle Kingdom were going to be served by seven chefs brought in from China. The wait ended when No. 8 China House was inaugurated with the rites and rituals attendant to milestone occasions.
The Table Moves
Invited guests walked through the grilled entrance into a tastefully designed interior. It was contemporary with oriental touches, an elegant, welcoming space with a warm atmosphere. The floor to ceiling glass windows looked out to an urban skyline dotted with lights on the inaugural night. Further in was a show kitchen where chefs prepared the food on the menu in full view of everyone. Glass walls and the calibrated exhaust system prevented any smell from the cooking to waft into the premises and intrude on the informal dining experience.
Private dining rooms accommodated Cantonese food enthusiasts around the circular tables with automated revolving Lazy Susan features. Each of the classic decorated rooms had a private washroom a door away.
The big draw of No. 8 China House is the Peking Duck that is immediately visible a few steps from the entrance. Grand Hyatt Executive Chef Mark Hagan explained that much research went into preparing the set-up for the restaurant’s centerpiece. A specially built wood-fired over was built to roast the Peking Duck for 60 minutes. Traditionally, lychee wood is used but aligning with The Grand Hyatt’s sustainability core value, the staff researched and found that locally sourced, fragrant mango wood was just as suitable.
The duck is prepared in a special patented process from the time of incision and dispatch, devised by the Grand Hyatt team. Eight Chinese chefs led by Masterchef Carson Luo, the Chef de Cuisine of No. 8 China House follow the recipe for the authentic Peking Duck which were passed on from generation to generation.
Middle Kingdom Cuisine
Tableside service will carve the duck that is served with traditional paper-thin Chinese pancakes, strips of cucumber, hopisin sauce and sugar. “The beauty of an authentic Peking Duck dish is the manner of consuming it,” Masterchef Carson Luo said. “Knowing the right way to enjoy it defines if you consumed a roast duck or an actual Peking Duck.”
This meticulously prepared dish that originated in Beijing in the early 1400s has retained its integrity thru the careful passing of recipes from generation to generation. “The best way to honor this classic dish is to eat it traditionally – just like how my ancestors ate it,” Luo added.
The delicacy is consumed three-ways, just like it had been in the ancient Middle Kingdom or Zhinggou, the most traditional name of China. The first course is served piping hot with the crispy skin skillfully sliced and dipped in sugar before consuming. The sugar enhances the flavor with a subtle caramelization.
The second or main course presents the trimmed and tender duck meat, wrapped in paper-thin pancakes with a crunchy strip of cucumber and a smear of hoisin sauce. The first bite into the sweet, savory indulgence is at once crispy and soft, a melding of textures and flavours to please discriminating palates. After the portions have been consumed, the duck bones are brought to the table as the last tasting of the deep fried dish.
A few weeks after the opening of No. 8 China House, a steady stream of patrons looking for traditional Cantonese food have become regulars. The duck is part of their meal keeping Masterchef Carson Luo and his team busy and happy for the appreciation conveyed by the continuous orders of the Peking Duck.
No. 8 China House is located at Grand Hyatt Manila, 35th Street, Taguig, Metro Manila