Duck and sugar | Min Jiang, The Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London W8 4PT
Nestled up high in the rather faded and archaic looking Royal Garden hotel is Min Jiang. A proper old-fashioned yet luxurious Chinese restaurant that boasts stunning views over Hyde Park. Layers of lush greenery with the magnificent London skyline behind, that for once lets the natural landscape take centre stage. This is no Hutong, although what we ate was just as great, the restaurant is quite dated and more informal with a family atmosphere, although several manly business dinners were going on around us. I’m meant to set the scene and describe the feel and decor of the restaurant, but I can’t wait to talk about the food. It was simply fantastic, some of the best Chinese food we’ve ever had. And no this isn’t a blogger gushing over a comped meal, we don’t do that, this is fact.
The first thing we ordered remains our favourite – a starter of Smoked Jasmine ribs with sesame seeds £10.50. We smelt them coming long before they landing on our table, so fragrant with proper falling-off-the-bone meat and a crunchy sesame crust, I was quite sad when they were gone. Next up was the Legendary Beijing duck (half £32, whole £58), they’ve been serving up this signature dish since they opened in 2008, which in London restaurant years makes them ancient. Like Hutong, the bird is carved up in front of you and the glistening immaculately layered slices presented with pancakes, plum sauce, spring onions and cucumber. But what makes Min Jiang’s duck super special is the extra condiments of garlic paste with radish and tientsin cabbage, giving our pancakes a whole new level of excitement when rolling, we could have done with more spring onions and cucumber though, the portion is quite teeny – we’re sure you could ask for more though.
A couple of puffy slithers of crispy duck skin is included in this first course, with a bowl of fine granulated sugar and more plum sauce, our sweet waitress explained you dab the meat in the sugar and then dip in the sauce. With the fat and sugar alone Ade remarked that it tasted like fairground donuts. I thought he was losing it until I tried it with my eyes shut, it’s true! The rest of our duck reemerged later in a stir-fry with noodles – there’s a choice of four options for how you’d like it prepared. We balanced it out with a lighter dish of delicate steamed Seabass with ginger and spring onions £23 – one of my all-time favourite flavour combinations, drenched in a puddle of sweet soy and ginger.
The Venison in spicy Sichuan sauce £25 was recommended and became Ade’s main course – a robust dish almost like stew and served in a clay pot. I don’t think we could have chosen better, even the token vegetable dish of Wok fried French beans with minced chicken £11.50 was incredibly tasty, this is despite the fact the veg was slightly on the limp side, I loved it and begged my stomach to make room for the rest of the bowl. It wasn’t going to oblige so I was left with just one option to finish my meal with, the lightest sounding option on the menu – Fresh mango cream with sago pearls and pomelo £8. Which ended up being nothing like what I expected but just what I needed, a wet soupy bowl of dessert with soft bubbly pearls that reminded me of the not disimilar bubble tea when swirling around my mouth. Ade had the Jackfruit cheesecake with caramelised cashew nut and pandan ice cream £8 which he embarrassingly ordered as ‘Jackman’, I think he must have had Hugh on his mind… This was another light dessert, the cheesecake had a slightly dry texture but the pandan ice cream was smooth and refreshing.
Wow, what a meal, we would both go back in a heartbeat and it’s not often that we 100% agree with each other. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was my cocktail – a Raspberita with triple sec, tequila, fresh raspberries and lime juice £8.50, it was so strong I couldn’t cope with it so I swapped it with Ade’s more refreshing and gentle Canton Ginger – vodka, amaretto, fresh lime, fresh ginger, apple juice, topped with ginger ale £8.75. Even the retro garnish on our plates of a sliced cherry tomato and sprig of parsley made my heart melt, this place is special, honest, and we hope it remains here for many more years, it’s just a shame the hotel underneath is so tired, and the meal so expensive, well worth it though, one we’ll remember and savour for very long time.
Bar: 12.00-15.00 then 18.00-23.00
(22.30 on Sundays)
Nearest station: High Street Kensington (9 mins walk)
Duck and Champagne
Throughout April, Min Jiang, is offering diners the chance to try the Legendary wood-fired Beijing duck, together with a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne, for £80 (half duck) or £99 (whole duck).
Dim sum and Champagne
During the summer months, the Min Jiang Bar are offering a selection of dim sum and dishes together with a half bottle of Champagne Téophile for £40 per person.
*We ate as guests of Min Jiang, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.