Chinese cuisine and upscale aren’t words you often find in the same sentence. For a long time, Chinese cuisine has suffered from a stigma that, as far as general perceptions go, has relegated it to the realm of takeout rather than fine dining.
That’s a pity. There is exciting work from a new generation of chefs, such as Fung Tu’s Jonathan Wu, whose cooking is at once traditional and innovative (smoked and fried dates filled with duck, anyone?) But the glass ceiling, in terms of prices, is very much there.
So I’m always curious when I encounter an upscale Chinese restaurant. Hakkasan, in the Theatre District, for example, offers killer Cantonese. The online menu doesn’t feature prices, which should be a clue to its priciness. If not, the fact that whole Peking duck is served with Ossetra caviar should offer another.
Another upscale Chinese restaurant, but focused on Beijing-style cuisine, Philippe, is celebrating its 10th year in business. It’s notable for the A-list celebs that have crossed its threshold: Rihanna, Matt Damon, Robert de Niro, and many more.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Philippe is set to enter nightlife entertainment by opening The Club at Philippe in East Hampton, with world class DJs, chef Philippe Chow’s signature dishes, and late night bites.
Speaking of stars, that star shine extends to the dishes, in a very literal way. They are served family style, in the traditional way, which I liked.
The Peking Duck, served dramatically table side, glows with a deep golden amber lacquer ($75 for a 7-pound duck). It takes 45 minutes to get it ready once you order, so it’s advised to order it as soon as you get there.
The table side carving only reinforces any hunger pangs: the sight of the gleaming duck skin, and the crackling sound of the skin as the knife slices through. It proves anticipation is the best appetite stimulant. The skin is, of course, the best part of a Peking duck. The thin pancakes here are housemade, and the duck makes for a good feast for about three people.