Sherman's Food Adventures: iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House

iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House

When iDen & Quan Ju De (was just QJD back then) was initially on the restaurant radar (even before it opened), I took one look and wrote it off.  There I go with my biases again.  I have to stop that...  It's not like I don't have an open mind, but the place just looked...  pretentious.   I mean, is it really catered to the general population of Vancouver?  Well of course not.  However, is it still worth to check it out?  That was the question.  Well, after over a year of doing very little, we decided that what the hay, just go for it and judge it fairly and without prejudice.

The main thing here is their Beijing Duck.  There is technically only one course, but that is because they serve it the traditional way they do it in Beijing - carve the whole duck including the meat for the crepes.  Therefore, there is no remaining meat for any other dish (they do give you the duck bones to take home though).  They charge $98.00 for the duck and I believe this is a completely fair price, considering that other spots such as Chef's Choice charges $88.00 albeit with 2 courses.

We actually were served a few pieces of crispy skin first with a side of raw sugar.  This is the way it is eaten and I've done this before at several spots.  The skin was really light and airy with a pointed crispiness.  Nicely aromatic and the skin was fairly well-rendered for local duck.  In the previous picture, you can see that the duck is carved with all of the from the breast.  Underneath was the dark meat.  We had 2 full plates of skin and meat for the table.

Of course the crepes are nearly just as important because it can ruin the entire experience if they are too doughy, too thick, too dry or rip apart.  These were excellent being paper thin and moist with complimentary elasticity.   In fact, the crepes were kept warm and moist in the heated bamboo steamer.  Therefore, when combined with the tender and moist duck with the crispy skin, this was so easy to eat.  One could literally eat the whole thing by themselves (actually someone sitting beside us did).

Of course, that wasn't the only thing we had.  Following the theme of crispy skin, we had the Crispy Wen Chang Chicken.  This was coated with sesame seeds and fried until the skin was light and crispy.  The skin was fairly well-rendered as well.  As for the chicken, it was quite moist and tender, even the white meat.  It was well-brined and seasoned to the point where it was bordering on being a bit salty. 

Moving on from poultry, we had the Garlic Wagyu with Zucchini.  This featured buttery nuggets of caramelized wagyu which was cooked enough for the fats to be activated.  As a result the meat ate like butter.  It was well seasoned and a bit smokey from the high wok heat.  The chunks of zucchini were firm yet cooked all the way through.  Completing the dish was fried garlic flakes.

If you can believe this, the Beijing Duck was not the most expensive thing we ate.  Rather, it was the Steamed Whole Grouper with crispy bean flake for $128.00.  I guess the big question is, "was it worth it?".  Well, that is up to what perspective you were coming from.  If it was just pure value, of course not.  Now if you want to look at the freshness of the fish and overall execution, it was really good.  The flesh was cooked barely through being delicate and sweet.  Providing a bit of texture and nuttiness was the crispy bean flake.  The soy/oil mix was a nice balance of sweet, salty and a touch of spice.

One of my favourite dishes other than the duck was the Stir Fried Crispy Rice with foie gras & dried scallop in truffle and soy.  So the actual fried rice was very good being chewy, slightly dry and nutty.  However, the addition of crispy puffed rice really added a beautiful texture.  It was addictive and now I want crispy rice in all my fried rice dishes...  There was only a smattering of foie, which was fine since it can be too rich.  The dried scallop added more umaminess while a bit of duck was added as the protein.

With rice, we also had noodles in the form of the Old Fashion Beijing-Style Black Bean Noodles.  It was quite pretty to look at and was tossed tableside.  This was a good bowl of noodles with crisp veggies and edamame.  The black bean paste with pork belly was balanced with plenty of umaminess and saltiness.  It did flavour each strand of noodle successfully.  Nothing exciting and well, it was some noodles, I guess this is what you get for one of the cheaper items on the menu at $20.00.

Another dish that was even lower in price, for $18.00, happened to be the Hand-Made Organic Pork Dumplings.  These were solid dumplings featuring a semi-thin skin that was tender with a bit of chewiness.  Inside, the pork filling was juicy and mildly-seasoned and accented by green onion.  Served on the side was a soy vinegar that added the necessary zip for the dumplings.  Nothing really that interesting, but once again, a cheaper item on the menu.

For our veggies, we selected the Pea Tips Fried with Wine Spirit.  This was a fine plate of pea tips that were fresh and young.  Hence, with the expert wok fry, each piece still maintained a crunch while cooked through.  They were delicately seasoned with a background wine essence.  So overall, the meal was pretty tasty with excellent execution.  In particular, the Beijing Duck was fantastic and in my mind worth the $98.00.  This meal set us back $500.00ish including tip and tax.  Believe it or not, this is on the lower end of how much you would spend here.  If you dabbled in the sea cucumber and abalone, it would easily go North of $1000.00.  So it comes down to, "was it worth it?.  If you appreciate attentive high-quality service in a luxurious dining space with well-prepared food, then this can be justified.  However, if value is you main goal, then of course not.  For this price, you can easily eat like a king at one of many of the Chinese restaurants in town.  But for me, it was a good experience and worth at least trying once, especially for the duck.

The Good:
- Excellent Beijing Duck
- Fantastic service & lovely dining space
- Free underground parking (I guess it should be for this price)

The Bad:
- Of course it is pricey
- Possibly can be seen as pretentious



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