DURING a sojourn in Hong Kong I never encountered a deconstructed duck. I saw a man deconstructing several live snakes with a machete and declined the resulting soup. But in the teeming melting pot of Mong Kok the locals all seemed happy to gnaw their classic Peking Duck from the bones, their jowls glistening with grease.
It’s all very different in downtown Alderley Edge, where the slightest jowl would be Botoxed out, upstairs in what used to be combustible Panacea and is now Yu, a Chinese restaurant of decadent style but discreet duck. The detached shards of the bird, described as confit, had the obligatory hoisin as companion and sprightly spring onion twirls, but the combo felt subdued as we filled our little pancake parcels.
This sharing dish cost £28, £12 less than Royal Peking Duck with Beluga, which had sent out a signal of lavish intent (you’re in the dark until you arrive because the website is without prices for food or drink. Naughty,).
I chose to glug fruity Chilean Sauvignon Blanc by the glass. It seemed sensible. Prices are high, but you are paying for posh. And guess what, the duck aside, this turned out to be a splendid feast with which to toast the `Year of the Dog’. Steamed dim sum of Pork Sui Mai and silkily luxurious Lobster King Prawn Lychee Har Kau (£6.50 and and £6.95 a trio respectively), the equal of any in Chinatown, set the bar pretty high.
Not so surprising, mind. Though Yu is aimed at an affluent Cheshire market its culinary pedigree stretches back to Yu and You in the Ribble Valley, a roadside Chinese with few bling pretensions and the plaudit of being named Best UK Chinese Restaurant’ by one Gordon Ramsay.
It’s the next Yu generation, Victor and Vinny, who have gone upmarket here. And yoked Wagyu beef and other luxury must haves on to a bedrock of Cantonese cuisine. Authentic? Hard to pursue that when most mainstream Chinese (and Indian) restaurants give us the dishes we have come to expect. Hence we spot sweet and sour chicken on the menu and steamed filler of sea bass.
We were tempted by the latter as we decided it was a night for fish, so ordered instead two small plates – queenie scallops with wild mushrooms and chilli salt and pepper squid. The mushrooms added little to the fine scallops and the chilli count on the squid was minimal, but both felt light and fresh.
Our waiter badgered us into the almost obligatory Champagne Miso Black Cod (£32.50, ouch). Sometimes this Nobuesque benchmark disappoints. Not this time – it was sweetly, flakily lovely, almost creamy (main picture).
Our only side was Singapore vermicelli with shrimp and char siu (£12.50) and this engaged beautifully with our other, wild card, fish main, roasted monkfish £24). It came in collops and had distinctly Thai spicing, lots of lemongrass and sparky chilli.
To close, from an ice cream dominated dessert list a tonka bean and cardamom creme brulee (£7) was a treat but served to remind me how rarely I have ordered a pud in ann ordinary Chinese restaurant.
But Yu is not ordinary. In place of fish tanks and peeling posters of the Great Wall the dining room has some lightly spooky images of nervous girls, one in a riding hat. Penumbral blues and rich dark wood dominate decor, design by Bernard (Panacea) Carroll. Strangely soothing, like the food, which obviously makes concessions for its clientele.
What’s wrong with that? If sea cucumber and chicken feet off some grubby ‘non-Westerner’ menu are your bag, enjoy in the appropriate basement. In the Year of the Dog, the Black Cod not the Snake is king. Ancient proverb I just made up.
Yu Alderley Edge, London Rd, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, SK9 7QD