A month and a half ago my mom’s side of the family gathered to celebrate the lunar new year. As my brother and sister-in-law also wanted to show their newly remodeled house, the decision was made to go up to Irvine and have dinner at the Irvine branch of Meizhou Dongpo.
For background information: Meizhou Dongpo is a chain of moderately upscale restaurants from Mainland China. They have dozens, if not hundreds, of locations in Mainland China and have grown their presence in the United States, mostly in metro Los Angeles. Their signature dish is the Beijing style roast duck (or Peking duck for most Americans).
We made a reservation for 6:30 but were able to get seated a little early as they held our table of 12 in advance. Immediately the servers asked if we wanted to place an order for duck and what order did we want (I believe we settled on a half duck). The duck takes a little while to prepare, presumably because of how popular it is, so they take your order for that as early as possible. They are so attentive to the duck question that no less than 3 different servers asked us 4 times in the span of 15 minutes to confirm that we had placed our duck order already. It’s that serious.
We ordered a number of other dishes as well, which you can see in my review below. Mind you, we also attempted to order both fresh crab and a whole fish, but the market price was extraordinarily expensive. The crab went for $35 per pound and the fish was $59(!) a pound. Given that, we quickly canceled both. With that out of the way, here were the dishes we did eat:
- Meizhou Roast Duck (half) – Unlike most Cantonese seafood restaurants you find in the US, Meizhou Dongpo correctly used the thin crepes (as opposed to thick mantou buns) you’d find in Beijing. The duck is good with light seasoning and freshly julienned scallions and sauce. I don’t think it’s the best Beijing style duck I’ve had (that would probably go to Berkeley’s Great China) but it is pretty good.
- Sole Filet with Scallions – This is what we ended up ordering instead of the live fish and it was pretty good. It had a creamy-dish sauce that was mild but tasty and there were some very nicely cooked bean sprouts
- Dongpo Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables – pork belly was very tender and the sauce hit just the right notes of being both slightly sweet but savory. The preserved vegetables were decent but could have used slightly more bit
- Stir-Fried Pea Tips – Honestly this dish is really hard to mess up. I couldn’t complain with the copious use of garlic
- Wok-Fried String Beans – These were so good that my brother decided to order them twice. The string beans wok fried til just blistering with a general helping of garlic and peppers
- Stir-Fried Mushrooms – I really liked the stir fried mushrooms. It was a mix of a couple different mushrooms (like white mushrooms and shiitakes) with a generous amount of garlic and what seemed to be a savory source with soy and hoisin
- Mapo Tofu – The flavors of the maps tofu were generally good, if not the most spectacular that I had. It could have been a little spicier and had some male flavor, but it was not bad
- Sautéed Diced Beef Filet with Black Pepper – The beef was pretty tender and nicely seasoned. Portions, however, were a little small
- Cucumber Salad – This is one of my brother’s favorites. It’s very nicely pickled, though I think they could be even better with a little kick of heat with them
Despite the sticker shock of the crab and fish at the beginning, the food was great, if a little expensive. I would definitely order the duck, mushrooms, string beans, and fish fillets again. However, it was well worth it for the meal celebrating THE biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar. While Irvine has a plethora of Chinese and Taiwanese food, Meizhou Dongpo is a rare place in the area for upscale food for a family meal.