Sunday, July 10, 2011

Maison Boulud a Pekin - (Beijing)

  I've always wondered how some of the high profile chefs especially a few American or Spanish chefs arrive at a decision on where next to open their Asia based Fine Dining restaurants,  sometimes skipping by obvious choices such as Hong Kong or Taiwan altogether.  I mean,  they'll eventually enter the emerging markets like China sooner or later anyway but right at this moment,  I have my reservations on a Michelin 3 Star Chef setting up shop here.  I will question its prematurity and whether the general market up here have jumped a few necessary palate training steps before developing into a level that makes them fully capable of appreciating the French dishes presented infront of them.   I guess I did find out the answer to my own question during a quick lunch here at Daniel Boulud's first foray into Beijing,  which at least looked the right part externally with the full French-esque maison, or manor house mock up.   The food however confirmed the deeper suspicion that it's yet too early to have entered this market, as despite being named the Best Beijing Restaurant Of the Year (Non-Chinese) for many consecutive years,  the dishes presented today weren't very convincing in terms of recipe structure and execution, as well as presentation.    It's almost like having a middle-tiered French bistro but being passed off as haute cuisine fine dining up here.   A bit of a waste of that beautiful architecture !

Are we in France somewhere?
Almost fooled me, if not for the Chinese person trying too hard to be starred in my photo!

Bread Basket -

Mini Baguette and a Pretzel Bread -
The softish texture is definitely not real French or German bread,
it's been toned down a bit for the locals..

Beijing Butter -
Made in Beijing using local milk just for Maison Boulud,
this was surprisingly good.  Shows that craftsmanship and local produce might not always lose out to flown in goods afterall!   Chinese red wine is another fine example!

This Pellegrino mofo costed me 90 RMB + 15%. 
Honestly a big rip off by this restaurant !!  Even though the meal itself was value for money

Amuse Bouche -
Some salmon with herbed creme fraiche on a cracker,  and some minced tuna and mayo on radish slice.   Very 1970's ....  ~   5/10

White Bean Garbure -
A beans and pork soup,  with stewed greens and root vegetables.  This was very oily and too cheesy,  and not enough veggies or beans like for a garbure.   Its a soupy not stew like version.
~   6.5/10

House Made Salmon Gravlax,
Caraway marinated with Pumpernickel Toast,  Capers,  Onions and Watercress -
This salmon dish is pretty tasty but its not exactly a revelation in terms of culinary achievement..
~ 6.9/10

Pumpernickel Bread for Gravlax

Slow Baked Monkfish -  Daikon Sauerkrat,  Smoked Bacon and Crispy Potato
This was cooked pretty well, and is one of their signatures apart from the Burger,  as they pride themselves on the home made sauerkrat apparently?   Wasn't much interaction between all the components to enhance it to another level,  but a nice enough lunch main course
~  7/10

Vanilla Cheesecake with Cherries Coulis and Ice Cream, Nougatine -
This dessert honestly looked a bit messy in presentation for a Boulud.  Taste wise?   Pretty decent with a cheese tang and the nougatine layer beneath was sweet but likable.
Ice cream was well,  a scoop of ice cream wasn't even quenelled for visual effect ~

Petits Fours -
A few typical options like a mini macaron,  short bread, choco tart, marshmallow and pate.
It's decent, but you can tell it could have been slightly better executed or the macaron not as crunchy, etc.   A pass !   ~   6.5/10

Mini Madeleines -
Were served warm and tasty.  Fairly buttery with a good financier like texture.

All of these,  turn them around and they have too big a 'knob' in proportion..
I think its ok for them to develop a small bump,  but this made them look like mini-UFO's !
Small niggles found here and there plus the localised options,  makes me think Beijinger's are probably not getting the full deal from Daniel Boulud for now ?   ~    6/10

Love the way this is set up to be distanced from another table,
something rare to find in HK where rental is much higher by the square foot !

Price: RMB 320  Per Person
Score:  ♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -  11:00am - 14:00pm,  17:00pm - 22:00pm
Address: 中華人民共和國北京市东城区Ch'ien men 23, 前门东大街23号
Ch'ianmen 23
, Beijing 10006, China

Ph: 65121992

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