March 18, 2014
Big Potatoes in Chinese colloquial conversation are the A-List, the 1%, the celebrities. Our guide Peter would reference them continuously. Tonight we went to a Big Potato restaurant. This is possible because of the latest crackdown on corruption in China. The reigning in of the corrupt bureaucrats has ended their stranglehold on prestigious restaurants like the one in which we consumed our Peking Duck. Evidently, a cruise line like Viking could negotiate for tables because the corrupt officials are not being bribed with payoff meals as much as in the past thus freeing space.
Anyway, on the way to this exclusive and very expensive restaurant, Peter prepped us for the experience. It was easy to see that he was excited that we would be able to partake in a gourmet Chinese meal. It did not sound overly exotic and we were ready.
The appetizers were Soy Sauce Chicken and Pork Short Ribs with Preserved Plum. Our table set the patten early and consumed every bite. We were using the lazy Susan serving thing so you had to wait and watch as the delectables made there way to you. The Mandarin fish was the strangest looking dish but was delicious. Everything but the head was consumed. I need not go into the other ten or so dishes except to say that they were prepared with the same care that you would expect at a fine French restaurant.
I have enjoyed duck many times in France. The Peking Duck left all others behind. The carver thinly slices the breast and serves it displayed in the shape of a turtle. Turtles in Chinese symbolize long life. You then place the slices of duck on a thin “pancake” or tortilla. You add veggies and plum sauce and you have a duck burrito. Absolutely wonderful. Again our table ate every morsel. I ordered a reasonably priced Chinese Cabernet. It was drinkable but no more.
With the meal complete we rose to see a shocking sight. On table after table were piles of uneaten duck and other delights. In contrast to our clean plates, many of our fellow passengers effectively passed on the meal. We were incredulous. We should have snagged stuff off their tables. I did notice that Peter’s tables were the clean ones. Maybe it was his enthusiasm for the meal.