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Spring Festival takeout trade poised to take off

By LI YINGXUE | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-01-29 07:52

Dadong roast duck is the signature dish of the restaurant.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Menu prepared

In addition to eat-in dinners and takeouts, Peking roast duck restaurant chain Dadong offers a service in which star chefs and waiters visit customers' homes to cook and serve Lunar New Year's Eve meals.

The service is available in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Luo Ruixin, Dadong's marketing director, said a menu has been prepared for the special dinners, and customers can also order their own dishes.

"Typically, a family of six to 10 uses this service, which costs about 1,500 yuan per person. We send a roast duck chef, two chefs for other hot dishes and one or two servers."

The chefs bring the ingredients with them. Some ingredients, including abalone, are prepared in advance if they take a long time to cook. All tableware and even an electric oven for the roast duck is also supplied.

"Our teams usually arrive at a customer's home two to three hours before the dinner is served," Luo said.

She added that chefs and servers sent to customers' homes are vaccinated against COVID-19 and are complying with anti-pandemic measures.

Luo is optimistic about this service, as she thinks that people are not that worried about the pandemic. They are also not traveling overseas during Spring Festival.

She said that in previous years, dine-in business was good from Lunar New Year's Eve to the second day of Spring Festival, when it declined sharply before gradually picking up ahead of Lantern Festival, on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

"In previous years, we limited the number of takeout orders in order to maintain our service for dine-in customers. However, this year, we are expecting more online orders," Luo said.

Dadong is offering coupons for Spring Festival sets and gift boxes that include its signature dishes such as abalone, roast duck and braised pork. The sets and gift boxes have nearly sold out.

"Many companies buy the coupons as gifts for their employees or clients. They can use them to order takeouts or to eat at our restaurants," Luo said.

Afternoon tea is another option for Spring Festival family gatherings.

From Feb 11 to Feb 13, the Park Hyatt Beijing is offering a Chinese New Year afternoon tea package for customers to enjoy views from its 63rd floor. The package, which costs 699 yuan, comprises a dessert set with tea, coffee and two glass of Champagne. Bookings must be made at least a day in advance.

Executive chef Martin Aw Yong said the package includes savory and sweet desserts that combine Chinese and Western cuisine.

Savory desserts include baked truffles and braised wagyu beef in spicy Chinese-style puff pastry, along with pomegranate puff pastry with basil wrap and blue fin crab and sea urchin fillings. Both desserts have been given auspicious names to celebrate the Year of the Ox.

The sweet offerings include citrus quark cheesecake, red berry tea tiramisu and honeydew melon milk sago.

An open kitchen enables diners to watch chefs preparing these delicate desserts, and their creations are displayed on a glass exhibition stand next to the kitchen.

For Spring Festival, main courses made from quality ingredients which take a long time to cook are a popular takeout choice, and poon choi is one of the best-loved dishes at Cantonese restaurants in Beijing such as Xin Ming Yuen, Jia and Dining Room.

Believed to date to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), poon choi is said to have originated in the walled villages of the New Territories in Hong Kong.

The ingredients usually include abalone, ginseng, fish maw, prawns, crabs, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck, fried eel, dried shrimp and pig skin.

Peng Aiqiang, executive chef at Jia, who has more than three decades' experience in Cantonese cuisine, said ingredients for poon choi have become more plentiful each year.

His version of the dish features a variety of premium seafood and rare mushrooms stewed to perfection.

Peng also makes a takeout dish using braised Dongshan lamb from Wanning, Hainan province, which has less fat and more protein than other types of lamb. The meat is stewed slowly for more than 90 minutes with chestnuts, water chestnuts and winter bamboo shoots.

Peng said lamb is best suited for winter, and as this dish has been popular at the restaurant, he decided to make it a takeout option for Spring Festival.

"It's suitable for family gatherings," he added.

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