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Yu Chu's Peking duck is the real deal

Update: August, 03/2014 - 20:23
Skillful carving: Authentic Peking duck goes through meticulous preparation before reaching diners' tables. — VNSPhotos Le Hong

One of my friends, who is well-known as a gastronome, one day promised to take me to a restaurant that does amazing duck dishes.

Duck is very popular in Viet Nam and one can enjoy this flavourful meat in various styles like chao vit (duck meat with rice soup), vit nau chao (duck with soya cheese), vit xao gung (duck fried with ginger), and roasted duck.

My friend took me to Yu Chu, meaning 'Emperor's Kitchen' in Chinese, a restaurant on the first floor of the InterContinental Asiana Sai Gon Hotel that marries a contemporary style with culinary spectacles and authentic Cantonese and Peking cuisines.

We chose the deluxe area in the large place and watched a chef in an elegant blouse doing a mini cookery show near our table.

Yu Chu signature dish is Peking duck (priced at VND510,000 ++ for a whole duck).

Duck meat is a good source of protein, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, thiamine and, to a lesser extent, vitamin B12, folate, and magnesium, according to my friend.

"Only people with cholesterol problems should avoid eating the skin," she said. I felt sorry for such people since the aromatic crispy skin is the most delicious part of the Peking duck.

Filling up: Elegant authentic dim sum with a variety of fillings.

Maybe the restaurant gets its ducks from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, where breeding them in swamps or in the immense rice fields is a prime activity for farmers. Our duck was not too fatty but instead had lots of muscle that tasted delicious after the skilled chefs were done with it.

As diners looked on, chefs were making hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum, and hot wok dishes in the impeccable open kitchen. We could see steel knives flash and fiery explosions from open gas burners, which they were operating adroitly with their knees.

Prized part: A piece of crispy, aromatic Peking duck skin, considered the most delicious element of the meal.

Yu Chu Restaurant

Hotel Intercontinental Asiana

Address: Hai Ba Trung, Le Duan Corner, District 1

Tel: 08-3520-9099

Price: VND400,000-500,000

Comment: Watch martial artists serve tea while performing kung fu moves

There was an extensive menu featuring Chinese dishes like beggar's chicken, drunken chicken, and drunken prawns along with authentic Vietnamese dishes.

The delicate dim sum is the real "little bit from the heart" that Yu Chu offers all Chinese food aficionados. Dim sum connoisseurs can savour as many as they wish for VND388,000 ++ per person.

It was great fun to watch the kung fu tea master in action.

Using a brass teapot to keep the water boiling hot, a martial artist serves tea even as he going through various kung fu contortions. It seemed miraculous that he managed to fill the cups without pouring the hot liquid all over the place.

"The delicate ingredients and meticulous preparation make the roasted duck so good! The skin is crispy but the meat inside is still soft. Not salty, just moreish. So delicious in general!" a Taiwanese customer commented.

"The waitress is very hospitable! We feel we're getting high-class treatment," his friend added. — VNS

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