Da Dong had four branches in Beijing at the time of writing, all serving the same menu. The premises that I went to were large and the dining area was spread over several floors and a labyrinth of rooms. Despite the scale of the place there was a lengthy queue for tables (they took reservations, but only for quiet times, such as before 18:00 or before noon for lunch). The room I ate in had a tiled floor, wood panels and assorted ornamental vases, with a large Chinese landscape painting decorating the room. The menu arrives with a thud, a hardback 86 page tome, with many of the dishes illustrated. As well as familiar dishes there are some you not see often, such as sea horse soup.
I tried spicy prawns, which were capably cooked, fried with assorted chopped vegetables and nuts, with a few Szechaun peppers, though the dish was not heavily spiced (3/10). Da Dong's reputation has been built on its duck, which it claims to be less fatty than traditional recipes. The duck was certainly good, the skin in particular thin, crisp and tender, the meat pleasant. This was served with the usual thin pancakes, and an array of condiments, including garlic paste as well as the traditional plum sauce, spring onions and cucumber. I was impressed with the pancakes, which were the thinnest and most delicate I have encountered. The duck dish overall was very good (6/10) but not, in my opinion, remotely in the league of the same dish at Made in China. A soup appeared but this seemed just to be some thin duck stock, and I found this just dull.
A bowl of fruit (melon, grapes) was, for no obvious reason, presented in a dish which had a flourish of dry ice. Service was functional rather than friendly, and somewhat stretched, though it all worked well enough. I just drank (rather unimpressive) jasmine tea with the meal, though alcohol was available. The bill came to an inexpensive CNY 311 (£29). The meal was pleasant enough but hardly stellar, though in this case perhaps it was a case of my overly high expectations given the high reputation of the restaurant.