Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beggar's Chicken

Beggar's Chicken at Made in India BeijingDuring my first trip, I had written about the other interesting dish not many discover in China, Beggar's Chicken. Not as popular as the famous Peking Duck, the serving of this dish is every bit as entertaining in its presentation. Especially so, if you are dining in the critically acclaimed restaurant, Made in China, within the palatial Grant Hyatt Hotel in Beijing.

When the waitress brought me the large ball of clay, I was momentarily confused. Then I noticed the wooden mallet and other instruments more appropriate in a operation theater or a torture chamber. This was getting interesting!

Made in China is designed to seat diners in the middle of bustling show kitchens, impressive wine racks and stacks of kitchenware through a long dining room that also has a separate bar area. This excellent restaurant serves up a variety of northeastern and Beijing delicacies through the evening. I was able to get a seat at a seat in front of one of the show kitchens. The last time I was here, I wasn't able to sample Beggar's Chicken; this dish sells out fast. Today I was luckier!

Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, BeijingAfter giving me a chance to deliver the first honorary blow to crack the baked clay encasing the Beggar's Chicken, my waitress took over. A few more expertly delivered blows with the mallet and much of the clay shell was cracked. She then used a pair of shears to cut through the lotus leaves that were wrapped around the chicken. The chicken itself seemed to be perfected roasted in its juices. The meat was falling of the bones. She used the final instrument to partly pry open the chicken to unveil the pork and mustard green filling. All in all, this dish made for a very interesting entree in terms of quality of experience. The chicken was well done and the mustard greens did enhance the taste of the dish somewhat.

Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, Beijing
Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, Beijing
Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, Beijing
Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, Beijing
Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, Beijing
Beggar's Chicken at Made in China, BeijingThe hot and soup I had ordered before my main course and the dessert that followed of "Made in China" homemade chocolate - Wu Liang Ye coriander mild and Si Chuan pepper chocolate walnut were nice but completely overshadowed by the impressive presentation of my main course.

Speciality chocolates for dessertFor those who are interested in the story behind how Beggar's Chicken got its name, check my earlier post here.


Unknown said...

I guess opening it requires more skill and effort than making/eating it:)Looks tempting though..

Shantanu said...

@Aarti: Heh! That's probably correct. But fun.

priyadarshan said...


Shantanu said...

@priyadarshan: Mostly the experience. The dish wouldn't be a standout without the elaborate ritual before it!

Anonymous said...

I heard about tis long back in
1960's in my own village; the poor brick klin workers used to cook their baCK Yard chicks in this way to have economy on fire wood and fuel; but I had no chance to taste the same as a pure unlucky vegetarian


Shantanu said...

@suppamani: Interesting! And in India, I presume?