Peking duck was a dish that was developed for royalty in ancient China, and once you know the process that goes into making it, you'll understand why it was a royal dish. Chef's used to blow air - yes, mouth to duck - into the duck to separate the skin from the meat, before par cooking it in a master stock, drying it for 24hrs, glazing it, then roasting it in a brick oven. It's not a recipe I would really attempt at home - I keep wanting to but am still daunted by the task - which is where places like Waitan come in for my Peking Duck fix.
Waitan is decked out in the opulent style of ancient China. One room actually features booths styled like the lazing areas of the rich during opium times. Prints featuring chubby women - chubbiness used to be associated with wealth, and so beauty - smoking opium pipes adorn the walls, transporting you to a romanticised version of old money during a past time.
But as much as I like interior design, we all know that my tummy will always lead me to the food. And lead me it has.
Waitan features open kitchens - for the more voyeuristic of us - and built near the back of the establishment is a hung oven for Peking duck. Flames leap as browning succulent ducks shamelessly parade in front of you, seducing the hungry diner.
But with all these theatrics, how does it taste? On launch night, Waitan served up canapé versions of their best dishes for us to sample. Peking duck pancake was of course one of them, together with fresh offerings from the oyster bar, wagyu beef steamed buns, prawn spring rolls, and prawn skewers with a Singapore chilli crab sauce.
The food was executed in a classy way, but I'm not sure whether it really hit the spot for me. I'm very impressed that they actually built a Peking Duck oven, and am equally impressed with the 10 million dollar fit out. But is it food that you can't get any where else in Chinatown? Perhaps not, especially with the accompanying price tag. But it's definitely a place where you would wine and dine someone you'd like to impress, and is offering very decent food with extremely lush surroundings.
If you're more business minded, then there are also private rooms upstairs from the main restaurant with a huge selection of fine wines.
Note: Tammi of Insatiable Munchies and her dining partner dined as guests of Waitan and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.
We ate at:
405 Sussex St, Haymarket New South Wales 2000
(02) 9212 7999
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