Four Seasons Restaurant
Some say the best Peking duck is in London, not Beijing, and that Four Seasons (completed unrelated to the hotels) is the place doing it. Judging by its Bangkok branch's instant popularity, our Thai-Chinese taste buds concur. We'll spare you the tales of Siberian ducks, treadmills, Scottish spring water or whatever magical secret is applied to their succulent, crispy-skinned birds but it's always a good sign when something is good enough to inspire conspiracy theories--too bad the location is in a mall.
There are three branches of the Four Seasons Restaurant (all completely unrelated to the high-end hotel chain) in London, and just one abroad, here in Bangkok. And judging by the long queues that form outside, local Thai-Chinese taste buds concur with the Four Seasons’ “best roast duck in the world” spiel. The exact recipe’s to Four Season’s roast duck is all very hush-hush, but we do know the ducks are stuffed with herbs and spices then marinated in vinegar and maltose syrup before roasting. The result is sweet (some might say too sweet), complex flavors with wonderfully tender, moist flesh balanced by a succulent, crispy skin. We’ll leave more expert and well-traveled foodies to debate whether they serve the best duck in London, in Bangkok, outside of China or in the universe—what we definitely do know is that it’s amazingly good, and that goes for the soy-based sauce it basks in, too. Added bonus: meals here don’t have to break the bank as even the B350 “portion” is a hearty plate (B600 for a half duck, B1,100 for whole). The “aromatic crispy duck” (B450/800/1,500) is nearly as exciting. A slice of duck deep-fried to a crisp is brought out before being shredded tableside with a spoon. The result is delicious, if a touch dry, but that’s because the meat isn’t oily despite the deep fry, and it is meant to be eaten wrapped in pancakes with a rich, sweet sauce and slices of spring onions. We would also have to agree with the oft-made observation, both here and in London, that venturing into the rest of Four Season’s menu tends to produce less impressive results—but maybe that’s because it’s harder to quicken the pulse with bean curd and vegetable dishes (although seafood and beef options do exist). And even if they aren’t quite as stellar, there are still dishes worth their salt, like the double-cooked pork belly with preserved vegetables in hot pot (B320): the vegetables have nearly melted into the sauce and, given that it’s pork belly, this dish does still manage to keep the fattiness levels well under control. Four Seasons is in a mall, and the tables are packed way too tight for the attempts at grandeur to break the dining hall vibe. But service is incredibly fast, their duck is worth the hype and prices remain reasonable.