Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔) at Lianyang Plaza

Hi!!! I’m back. It’s only been a week or so since my last post, but I’ve been so busy that it feels like forever. Basically, it’s crunch time for AP exams. Last week  it was  a Calc test, English paper, Capstone presentation prep ( the official one is in 2 weeks) and Econ mock and ….. oh yeah…. I took the ACT yesterday. #the junior life

Of course, no matter how busy I am, I’ll always find time for good food. Well yesterday, after the ACT ( don’t get me started on standardized testing), there was no way I would settle for a boring dinner at home. So, my dad agreed to take me to this cool restaurant I’ve been wanting to try. Let’s eat!

Nanjing Impressions

Nanjing impressions is a fairly big chain serving up traditional Nanjing fare (salt water duck, oil braised bamboo, sticky rice stuffed lotus root …). Normally, I avoid chains like this that attempt to recreate tradition, but my cousin, Dianping.com (China’s Yelp) approve, so I knew I had to give it a try.

Turns out we were far from the only ones because my dad and I arrived to this:

Luckily, the wait was only 20 minutes so we stuck it out. Here’s what we got!

Food

The menu is quite extensive and unlike with most restaurants, pretty much everything looked good. Of course, with just the two of us, we had to make some sacrifices, but luckily, some of the portions were quite small so we still got some pretty good variety:

Spicy Pickled Lotus sprouts- I LOVE a good pickle. Usually, I go for the radish or cabbage, but lotus sprouts are pretty unique to southern China and most restaurants don’t offer them any more, so when I saw this dish, I knew I HAD to get it. As expected, it didn’t disappoint. The sprouts were crispy, spicy and flavorful, but not overwhelming or overly acidic. They added a touch of sugar in the marinade to balance out the salt and pickled peppers. Definitely a great start to the meal

Spicy Duck Blood- This dish is basically boiled slices of blood doused in fragrant hot oil. For the uninitiated, blood slices have a soft, springy texture with a slightly irony, but not metallic taste. Unlike tofu, it doesn’t soak up the oil, so the flavor isn’t overwhelming, Instead, the touch of spice literally jump starts the appetite.

Fish spiced River Conch- River conch is a warm weather staple down in southern China. It’s also one of my dad’s favorites. Fish spiced is actually quite deceptive. It’s actually a fancy way of saying braised except the sauce is more savoury, spiced and thick. This dish didn’t disappoint- fresh, tender conch in a spiced, savoury and not overly oily sauce. Order this!

Soup Braised River Eels- I LOVE eel, but most eel dishes are either drowned in an oily sauce, not fresh or not available to ensure freshness. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw this dish. Although the title says braised, it was actually one of the first dishes to arrive. How was it? AMAZING! The eel itself was tender and definitely fresh. The broth had a rich umami kick but wasn’t oily. To top things off, the dish included plenty of thin egg strips that really soaked in the broth. ORDER THIS!

Roast Duck Soup Dumplings- I love roast duck; I love soup dumplings. Put the two together, and there’s a dish I’m bound to order. It also happens to be one of the Signature Dishes. Well, my expectations weren’t met. When I took my first bite, I actually thought they brought the wrong dish- they were completely lacking duck flavor. Although the flavor was good, it was incredibly one- dimensional. The juice was also greasy, borderline disgusting- definitely not worth the nearly 40 minute wait

Roast Pork Knuckle- Well, those dumplings were a downer, so let’s end the review on a high note with the best dish of the night. Instead a the measly plate of pretty mediocre meat and borderline soft skin (Nanjing isn’t exactly known for roasting), we got the entire hunking bone. At first glance, the skin was actually bubbled. However, the crackle of skin was only a peek into the treasure underneath. The meat and tendon was incredibly tender and flavorful- even better than the haxe from both Paulaner’s and Haxnbauer. It was salty, but even after my 10th piece, I was still craving more

Service and Atmosphere

The atmosphere is best described as busy- literally and metaphorically. Obviously, there were a ton of people- creating a loud, lively, almost overwhelming atmosphere. Adding to the frantic energy were the wait staff rushing around and delivery personnel hurriedly stacking takeout boxes. Honestly, this restaurant could make a business on takeout orders alone! The decour, replicating a traditional teahouse, was also busy- look at the lights! In this case, busy wasn’t a bad thing. I LOVED the decour. With that said, this definitely isn’t the place for any intimate or important meal.

Service was surprisingly good. Despite the busy restaurant, our dishes arrived quite quickly (except for the dumplings). The wait staff were also very courteous and attentive- a pleasant change from most other busy, classic Chinese restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔) at Lianyang Plaza

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