What’s your impression of Nanjing? As the capital of six ancient dynasties and the seat of the Nationalist government during the civil war, Nanjing cuisine has developed to incorporate the best of the region. Nanjing Impression intends to represent the lesser known Jiangsu cuisine.
From the culinary canon known as Jiangnan, Jiangsu, or Huaiyang cuisine, Nanjing fare marries refinement and a depth of flavour forged with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Indeed, Nanjing’s history as a seat of government over several dynasties has earned it its moniker of ‘heavenly kitchen of China’. Many royal banquet was prepared here, with master chefs hand-carving intricate garnishes for elaborate dishes made with local produce such as duck, fish and vegetables like taro and lotus roots, just to a name a few.
Much like xiaolongbao, the steamed buns with roast duck 天王烤鸭包 gushed soup upon first bite. The uncommon interior of minced roast duck was heavy and rich. Could do with some vinegar
The Jinling salted duck (招牌盐水鸭) has a spartan presentation – thick strips of rosy meat and pale skin – but the classic dish needed nothing more. It stood steady on taste alone. The duck was tender despite the long brining process. But it was just monotonously salty.
Mala Duck Blood Pudding 麻辣鸭血 was a disappointment, the blood pudding was not properly flavoured.
If you take your fatty pork neat, order the braised lion’s head meatball (清炖狮子头), as pale, soft and rich as a Wall Street banker’s hands.
The steamed Yangtze River white fish with chicken stock (鸡汁长江白鱼) is both massive and delicate. We are told that the belly meat is the most tender, and it pulls away from the bones.
Traditional sautéed periwinkle 街坊炒螺丝 would be the worst dish for the night. The periwinkles had the muddy taste and were not cooked thorough enough to soak in the sauce. And it was not spicy enough.
Four treasures in spring 春鲜四宝 consisted of preserved pork belly, chopped kailan, bamboo shoots and broad beans. Very flavourful.
According to legend, during the late Qing dynasty, leaders of the Taiping rebellion Hong Xiuquan and Yang Xiuqing swept into Nanjing, capturing the city and naming it Tianjing or Heavenly Capital. The chefs there had mostly been serving Sichuan-style dishes, but these were too spicy for Hong, who was Cantonese. Thus began a meticulous calibration of dishes such as the palace pickled pepper chicken (王府泡椒鸡), so that it was not just spicy, but had a nuanced combination of spicy, sweet and tangy notes.
Since then, the recipe for the dish has been passed down through generations. At Nanjing Impressions, Palace Chicken with pickled chilli is baked then fried until lightly crisp, its flavours well balanced with whole pickled chilli pods and a flavourful sauce made with condiments such as aged vinegar.
Ten Mile Qinhuai River 十里秦淮
Red lanterns, swollen and luminous, swinging from the rafters; a row of wooden snack stalls with vendors peddling bamboo steamer baskets of dumplings; lacquered tables packed with animated parties of diners – it’s the kind of romantic vision of dining in China you might have before ever stepping foot in the country. Where do you find it once you’re here? The fourth floor of a shopping mall, of course.
The whole place is decorated with Nanjing-style pavilions and wooden panels. You are immediately taken to old Nanjing. It’s like a dim sum place, you tick what you want to order, or order using the WeChat mini-app. The food came promptly after ordering as they were mainly prepared beforehand, maybe except the fish and other casserole dishes. But the tapas were all ready and waiting at the “stores” around the place.
Quite an experience if you have not been there before, but the food was not the main purpose to go.
Nanjing Impressions 南京大排檔
+86 400 187 7177
Date Visited : Mar 2019