REVIEW: Authentic Chinese delights at DONGPO KITCHEN, new at Universal CityWalk
Our friends at Universal Studios Hollywood invited us to preview the newest restaurant at the ever-changing CityWalk, Dongpo Kitchen. The first of its kind, Dongpo Kitchen takes the gourmet and authentic Chinese cuisine from Meizhou Dongpo (famous in the LA area for its upscale outposts in Century City and Arcadia) into a more casual atmosphere befitting a major tourist destination like Universal.
We got to sample several menu items after being welcomed by Morell Marean, Senior Vice President of Food Operations for Universal Studios Hollywood. Marean introduced representatives of the Meizhou Dongpo culinary empire, who gave a bilingual speech from the company’s founders, Chef Gang Wang and his wife, Chef Di Wang. Popular park president Larry Kurzweil and other Universal executives were on hand for the festivities as well.
The restaurant is beautiful; just enough flourish to be whimsical without being overbearing. We saw several guests walk up and try to get a table despite it not being officially open. It’s sure to be very successful, especially if word gets out about some of the grub we got our hands on.
Standouts on our plate included the Chilled Noodles with Chicken, amazing Pork Baos, Sichaun Green Beans and of course, their famous Roast Duck, served in delightful sandwich-like baos. You can order the roast duck (sans baos) as an entree, and it will be carved table side. Better order some appetizers though, as the duck requires 45 minutes of preparation time to ensure the freshest bird makes its way to your table!
The Dongpo chefs don’t shy away from spice and the dishes served are authentic (no Americanized Panda Express stuff here), so less adventurous eaters may find the selection difficult to navigate. But if you’re like us and love trying tastes from around the world, you’ll find lots to love.
Service is family style and the presentation is so precise it borders on artisanal. With all of its hype, we were most excited to try the duck and it didn’t disappoint. Our table’s favorite item was the Pork Bao, and we may have eaten several just to be sure they were all amazing. They were.
Other popular items on the menu include signature Dan Dan Noodles and a variety of shareable dessert options. We got to try the Pumpkin Cake and it was fluffy and light, with just enough flavor. A perfect ending to filling meal.
Dongpo Kitchen opens August 8, 2016, at Universal Studios Hollywood CityWalk, just across from the Universal Cinemas. Check it out on your next visit!