The New York Times caused a stir Tuesday when food critic Pete Wells reviewed Manhattan Chinese eatery DaDong and gave it zero stars. Citing tasteless dishes and high prices, Wells expressed his displeasure with the Chinese chain’s first foray into the United States.
DaDong began life as a single restaurant in Beijing, China. Specializing in Peking duck, DaDong Roast Duck was founded by chef Dong Zhenxiang in 1985. Dong developed a special roasting method using a circular wood-burning stove to cook his version of a crisp, juicy Peking duck. His take on the traditional Beijing favorite proved to be popular and helped propel Dong to the position of one of the most famous chefs in Beijing. Due to this success, his flagship restaurant in Dongcheng District was soon joined by other branches in the city. Dong has since spread his eateries into Shanghai, where two of his DaDong restaurants have earned a Michelin star each. In 2017, he expanded DaDong into Manhattan.
Located near Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, DaDong’s newest location opened in December 2017. Spread over two stories, the eatery’s menu is built around its Peking duck. However, due to New York City regulations, the duck is cooked over gas instead of traditional Chinese wood-burning stoves. The restaurant also offers other dishes like Pacific geoduck clams, sweet and sour pork ribs, steamed king crabs, Kung Pao chicken and shrimp, and Wagyu beef.
However, the New York eatery’s extensive menu has not impressed reviewers. Pete Wells wrote in his review for The Times that he found DaDong’s famous Peking duck dish dry and tasteless. He also cited an overabundance of sweetness in many of the restaurant’s dishes. Adam Platt of GrubStreet gave the restaurant a similarly uncomplimentary rating in January. Although not quite as dismissive of the Peking duck, Platt also cited an overuse of sugar in the menu and bemoaned the $98 price tag for the duck dish.