NO.8 CHINA HOUSE

Let’s Eat - - WHAT'S INSIDE - PHO­TOS BY GABBY CANTERO WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON ENRQUEZ

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Dip that rich ul­tra-crispy del­i­cately fatty freshly-sliced sliver of golden-brown skin from the house-roasted Pek­ing Duck into . . . no, sorry… not Hoi Sin sauce. That’s not the way tra­di­tion dic­tates in No. 8 China House, the Grand Hy­att’s, for lack of a more apt term, very grand and very new Chi­nese restau­rant. At No. 8, Chef de Cui­sine Car­son Luo en­thu­si­as­ti­cally demon­strated that the best way to en­joy the duck’s crack­ling is by dip­ping it into pure white su­gar crys­tals. As I’m never one to be averse to try­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences, es­pe­cially in all things culi­nary, I ea­gerly com­plied. How was it? It cer­tainly changed my per­spec­tive about Pek­ing Duck, and made me fall in love with it all over again. The su­gar con­trasted and com­ple­mented the duck’s in­her­ent sa­vory fla­vor pro­files, and added a touch of tex­ture too. It was al­most like candy, ac­tu­ally. A most di­vine and deca­dent sweet treat.

I’ve al­ways loved this del­i­cacy. More so when I dis­cov­ered that third way of en­joy­ing Pek­ing Duck: when the most fla­vor­ful meaty morsels still at­tached to the chopped-up bones -- in­stead of be­ing boiled and served as a rather or­di­nary soup -- are fried to crispy good­ness with salt and pep­per. Fan­tas­tic with a frosty beer, an ex­pen­sive co­gnac, or a 12-year old whisky on the rocks. Pek­ing Duck is the gift that keeps on giv­ing. From the first way, the skin rolled with scal­lions and cu­cum­ber spears in those thin white pan­cakes, to the com­mon sec­ond way with the meat minced and served with let­tuce leaves, and all the way to the last beau­ti­fully deeply fla­vor­ful crunchy bit of the third way. China House No. 8’s ver­sion will

“I’VE EN­JOYED THIS DEL­I­CACY EV­ERY­WHERE, FROM MANILA TO TORONTO TO THE LEG­ENDARY QUAN­JUDE ROAST DUCK RESTAU­RANT IN BEI­JING, WHICH HAS BEEN OPEN SINCE 1864. NO. 8’S IS SEC­OND TO NONE.”

never dis­ap­point. It’s a long process, from pro­cure­ment to prep­ping to slow roast­ing the ducks in the restau­rant’s spe­cially built mango wood-fired oven. The re­sult is a dis­tinct aroma, a sub­tle smoky fra­grance that el­e­vates this Pek­ing Duck from the usual. I’ve had this del­i­cacy ev­ery­where, from Manila to Toronto to the leg­endary Quan­jude Roast Duck restau­rant in Bei­jing, which has been open since 1864. No. 8’s is sec­ond to none.

8 is a lucky num­ber for the Chi­nese, and it’s by de­sign that this restau­rant, with its eight main ar­eas -- the grand din­ing hall and seven VIP rooms -- was named as such. The food is clas­si­cal Can­tonese, cooked up by a team of six chefs, all ex­perts from the main­land, work­ing un­der

the su­per­vi­sion of Chef Car­son: one is the Pek­ing Duck mas­ter, an­other the Sze Chuan au­thor­ity. The other four ded­i­cate them­selves to the in­tri­ca­cies of the Can­tonese spe­cial­ties. Watch­ing this team of chefs per­form dif­fer­ent tasks, but as one, mov­ing in chore­ographed uni­son it seems, is hyp­notic. A culi­nary bal­let. A de­li­cious dance of fly­ing in­gre­di­ents and flam­ing woks. No. 8 is more than just a restau­rant. It’s a show­case of Chi­nese cui­sine.

03 1 Tra­di­tional Pek­ing Duck: First Cook­ing 2 Whole Pek­ing Duck3 Chilled Black Fun­gus

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4 Seafood Soup with Crab, Shrimp, and Win­ter Melon5 Shrimp Salad with Sea­sonal Fruits6 Open Kitchen7 Braised Abalone with Fish Maw and Sea Cu­cum­ber8 Chef de Cui­sine Car­son Luo and his Chi­nese Chefs 07

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