“Allow me to introduce you to our duck master” said our waiter as a Chef arrived at the table wielding a sharp knife and portion of crispy Beijing duck. With a quick nod of his head as way of saying hi, he expertly carved the duck table side. Not on a board, but by hand, in front of our eyes. First the crispy skin, then the moist and tender duck. As he carved he gently placed each piece on a tray which was laden with hoisin sauce, finely chopped spring onion and cucumber batons. He carved quickly and expertly, each piece being roughly the same size and shape. When he was done, little remained on the bone in true testament to his expertise. Chef later explained that this is how peking duck is served traditionally in China and that Zheng He’s try to maintain Chinese traditions with a modern twist.
We were sat beside the waterway in Mina A’Salam and with views across the beach and of the Burj Al Arab enjoying the Zheng He’s Voyage Brunch. Zheng He in case you didn’t know, we didn’t, was a famous Chinese nautical explorer of the Ming Dynasty.
Brunch is a relaxed affair, each course is served to your table family style and showcases dishes representing Zheng He’s travels. We start with hot appetizers, the Golden Prawn in Chinese Yellow Mustard is a big hit, the mustard reminds me of wasabi. Our next course, the only reason to leave your table, is to hunt out the Dim sum trolley where we return with a plate laden with four different types of hot and fresh dim sum along with some home made sauces. My absolutely favourite which I always enjoy is Siew Mai served in a delicate wrapper, with a dense, intense and moist filling.
Next come the duck course, served with hot pancakes which we assembled ourself with a good dollop of sticky hoisin sauce.
The main course follows with seven dishes, including a Sichuan style Canadian Lobster in a spicy chili sauce and a dish of Tenderloin Beef in a black pepper sauce, the beef is so tender the knife glides through it effortlessly. Both are exceptionally good and added to our list of ‘dishes we must have again’. The trout is moist and tender and a delight, I usually don’t enjoy Trout. The Yong Chow fried rice I’m told, is packed full of prawns and veggies and tasted great. The wok fried hakka beef noodles are coated in sauce and really moreish and are the best noodles I’ve had in a while.
Moving onto dessert, save room if you can, we were treated to a platter of modern desserts served on a bamboo board. Look out for the eye catching Exotic Fruit Salad complete with some dry ice magic and indulge if you can in the passion fruit milk chocolate tart which has a hidden surprise inside and is exceptionally good without being too rich.
Having arrived quite late, I must admit we left with a few containers of food packed ‘to go’ as we didn’t quite do justice to all the food that was served (and I do so hate food waste). My Tip : go with an appetite, be on time and take your time over one of the most casual and relaxing brunches we have enjoyed in a while. Would we go back? Absolutely!
[Zheng He’s is located at Mina A’Salam, Brunch is every Friday between 12 noon and 3.30 pm. AED 395 per person, non alcoholic package and AED 495 including alcohol ~ includes all taxes]
[Images by Debbie Rogers]