花悦庭:Fine Cantonese Cuisine

Hi!!! I’m back, but not with another installment of Cultural Shanghai. Remember last post when I said it’s been all about the duck lately? Well, it’s really been all about the duck. So, guess what, I decided to go get some duck. Not just any duck- Crispy skinned Roast Duck

There are literally hundreds of restaurants that serve “Roast duck”, but one restaurant stood out in particular. Better yet, it’s a 15 min walk from our house.

花悦庭

花悦庭 is a “fine Cantonese” restaurant with () locations around Shanghai. It serves up all the Cantonese classics and some pretty upscale seafood, but it’s most famous  for it’s shrimp dumplings and of course… wood fired Crispy Skinned duck. I love shrimp dumplings; I needed duck. Let’s eat!

Food

Seasonal Vegetable in Soup- I usually don’t bother to review veggie dishes, but this one deserves a shout-out. The dish was incredibly light and fresh, far removed from standard greasy restaurant fare. Touches of minced meat, a bit of preserved eggs and fried garlic added richness and umami. Definitely the perfect dish to balance the meaty richness coming up.

Custard Buns- My mom and brother are suckers for custard buns. They also happen to be one of the restaurant’s specialties, so yeah, we were getting  them. These definitely didn’t disappoint. The pillowy skin was so delicate it could barely hold in the rich, sweet golden lava within. The risk of mouth burns is high, but totally worth it.

Mini Crystal Shrimp Dumplings- Crystal shrimp dumplings are a Cantonese staple, but rarely on the “specialties” list. Not here. These babies aren’t just on the “recommended list”, they’re on the official promotion poster! How were they? Probably some of the best shrimp dumplings EVER. The skin was chewy yet delicate, but most importantly, the shrimp could not have been more fresh and umami. Even my brother who usually avoids all seafoods loved them.

Sizzling Lamb- My brother needed some meat, so we handed him the menu and ended up with this dish. Usually, dishes like this are ripoffs- not this one. The lamb was tender, fresh and really soaked up the rich, umami sauce. The onions and garlic on top added texture and depth of flavor which really balanced the heavy meatiness of the dish.

… and finally…

 

Crispy Skinned Wood- Fired Duck- This duck is the restaurant’s signature dish, for VERY good reason. The duck is first brined for at least 12 hours, hung out to dry (the secret to crispy skin), then roasted to perfection in their special wood smoke oven.

Of course, that’s only the prepwork. After an agonizing wait, the duck is carved table side and served with the normal accoutrement: steamed crepes, sweet sauce, cucumber and onion. So, how did it taste?

Beyond description. The skin was not only incredibly crispy, but thin. Each bite gave a satisfyingly, rich crunch without the burst of fat to overwhelm the palate. When wrapped in one of the soft, paper- thin crepes with a touch of sauce, it made for a magical bite.

Pepper Sitr Fried Duck- The crispy skinned wood fired duck is obviously all about the crispy skin. Don’t worry, the meat doesn’t go to waste. 花悦庭 offers customers the option of 3 stirfries or winter melon soup. I would normally go to the soup, but since my dad was with us, we went for the famous pepper stir-fry. It was DELICIOUS. The meat was extremely flavorful and had a strong but not overwhelming kick. Even better, although it was pretty much fried, it wasn’t greasy at all, just flavorful. Pro tip: The crispy bits are the best!

Service and Atmosphere

The atmosphere was definitely in line with the food. Sure, the restaurant was in a shopping plaza and it was the middle of Saturday lunch rush, but there was still an air of traditional elegance made possible, in no small part, by the upscale, Chinese- style decour. I especially loved the “open” duck station where you could see the ducks being dried and roasted

While delicious, 花悦庭 definitely caters towards bigger parties. Each dish is quite large, so come hungry and with a crowd to get the full experience.

Service was good, but definitely a step below the food and atmosphere. While the waitstaff were dignified and courteous, they weren’t that helpful and often ignored us or forgot our requests. With that said, the food came out really quickly

Overall Impression

Overall, 花悦庭 definitely lives up to its name as a “Fine Cantonese Cuisine” spot. I’ll definitely be coming back and checking out some of the other locations and dishes

 

 

 

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