God of Beijing Duck Da Dong Goes Bankrupt in New York City
Da Dong, Beijing's own uber-popular purveyor of the city's most famous dish, has flopped in its US debut.
Da Dong New York City closed late last year, after having declared bankruptcy in November, and has put the entire contents of its NYC restaurant up for auction. And apparently people don't miss it.
A lame-duck from the go?
Da Dong opened its first and only US outpost in New York City just over two years ago, and prior to its opening, the local foodie press went nuts over the announcement, with many naming it one of the most anticipated openings of 2017.
Before finally flinging their doors open in December of that year, the restaurant had already built up a , with their signature ducks running ?(RMB 675) or USD 58 for half (RMB 400).
Da Dong's US flameout is a doozy – not only are they closing up shop, but apparently they're not going to give it a second try. They've filed for bankruptcy protection and the entire restaurant – including all furnishings within – are to be sold at auction to the highest bidder this Friday in New York City. If you've got a States-based friend who wants to try their hand at opening a?roast duck joint, point them to the full auction list?.
快3开奖结果查询At the time of their , Da Dong New York owed over USD 600,000 in salary and wages and over USD 3 million to suppliers and vendors.
Eater mentions that after opening the restaurant, Da Dong immediately earned itself notoriety with ?including thrashings by prominent food critics at influential media giants such as the and magazine, from which it "never quite recovered."
NYT's critic was particularly harsh, noting:
快3开奖结果查询"The meat didn’t make as firm an impression. It made very little impression at all, apart from my strong sense that there ought to have been more of it. Tasted on its own, it reminded me a bit of the lean, whitish, noncommittal supermarket pork chops I grew up on. Slowly, gradually, with great mental resistance but still inexorably, it dawned on me that I had paid USD 98 for a duck with almost no flavor."
快3开奖结果查询When the restaurant wasn't being roasted by?professional food critics (read: snobs), Da Dong likely found little solace among the reviews of the masses via Yelp. "All I can say is – whose vegan Crossfit-loving duck is this?!"?said one . "The duck was so lean, borderline dry, and kind of flavorless, [which is unsurprising] given how fat is where the flavor is."
Where did it all go wrong?
Some blame the fact that Da Dong had to convert to gas-fired ovens (rather than wood-burning ones used here) to meet New York fire codes. Some say the Indiana-raised birds were just too lean. Others say it was the steep prices or perhaps American's lack of understanding of the brand's patented preparation method, which favors leaner meat and crispier skin. One Yelp reviewer of Chinese descent?just couldn't get past Da Dong's Caucasian waiters offering to teach her how to eat duck.
快3开奖结果查询We, meanwhile, think it was simply a misunderstanding of the market. Beijingers already convinced of Da Dong's talents and in love with his duck are easier to upsell on?other fancier fare, but getting New Yorkers headed to a specialty duck restaurant to try anything else, is a?challenge.
It seems Da Dong somehow got lost on the way to Michelin-star glory – the website for the New York outpost of its signature dish, opting instead for images of splayed squirrel fish and oysters.
What now for the master of duck?
快3开奖结果查询It appears that?something has come unstuck in Dong's?pivot from humble duck restaurant to super-fancy upscale dining. While we still love their signature product, the tilt towards molecular gastronomy and the addition of tons of non-duck (and even non-Chinese cuisine) that has gradually begun to clutter their menu over the years has made us a little uneasy, as if at every visit we are being upsold on some other luxury dish.
Da Dong in Beijing is still going strong, and we have a soft spot in our hearts for their duck and for proprietor "Big" Dong Zhenxiang, a perennial favorite in our annual Restaurant Awards (back when we were still doing them). However, we can't help but wonder if maybe fame has gone?to his head. On the Da Dong NY website, Dong has begun to resemble the Sinified love child of Guy Fieri and Elvis Presley:
快3开奖结果查询Nevertheless, here's to Da Dong's continued success in Beijing and our wish that he returns to his roots to concentrate on the quintessential Beijing dish that put both him and his restaurant on the global food map.