Legendary Dadong coming to the Big Apple

Updated: 2016-08-05 11:34

By Amy He In New York(China Daily USA)

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Legendary Dadong coming to the Big Apple

A rendering of the Dadong restaurant at 3 Bryant Park, which is set to open in spring 2017. Provided to China Daily

It's known for its Peking Duck and one of the most well-known chefs in China. In the spring of next year, both will be in Midtown Manhattan.

That's when Dadong restaurant will open its first US flagship at 3 Bryant Park: an 18,000 square-foot space that will seat approximately 400 on two floors and feature a 4,000-square-foot rooftop bar and private dining facilities and have glass exposure on three sides.

The opening is the culmination of four years of often frustrating work, according to real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF). The firm and Shang Dai, CEO of Kuafu Properties, said that they reviewed dozens of locations in the city before deciding on 3 Bryant Park.

The restaurant is a joint venture between Chef Dong Zhenxiang, Dai, Xiaojie Huang, a co-founder of JD Capital, and the Chyau Fwu Group, a Hong Kong-based investment group. The asking rent for the space was $2.3 million per year, though representatives from the deal declined to disclose the final terms.

"The idea from the beginning is the business concept - the location of Times Square is right by NASDAQ, Reuters, Ernst and Young, Bank of America tower, HBO, ABC, Toshiba, and the concept is to have Eastern business people meet Western business people," Dai said.

Though Dadong is well-known in China - Michelle Obama and her children visited the restaurant during their trip to China - and business elites often dine there while in Beijing, it is virtually unknown in the US except in Chinese communities. That made finding a location for its US flagship restaurant a "challenge", said Dennis Karr and Jonathan Krivine of NGKF.

Several locations in the Times Square area were considered, but "there were limitations, because this is by New York standards a very large restaurant, so there are not that many opportunities. The restaurant in China is about 50,000 square feet, and we're looking at about 18,000 square feet here, which is very, very big by New York standards," Karr said.

Dai's Kuafu Properties is also involved in the MiMa Tower and the Hudson Rise projects on the Manhattan's Westside. Hudson Rise is a hotel and condo project in the Hudson Yards. Kuafu Properties bought 13 floors at 1 MiMA Tower on 42nd street and is turning it into condos. Dai sees the balance of the city shifting to the Westside in the next five years, and he said that makes the location of the restaurant being near Times Square an ideal spot because it is close to the west side.

He said Peking duck will be a signature dish for the restaurant, and it will import from China a special type of brick oven and patented stove used exclusively for roasting it.

A big impetus for Dadong's expansion into the US is to bring authentic Chinese food to New York, which despite being a food capital, still lacks authentic Chinese food, Dai said.

"So many Chinese people come to the city for business, travel, for their kids, but everyone complains. They just don't have a place where they can have real, authentic Chinese food," Dai said, unless they want to trek out to Flushing, Queens.

"One of the agreements the local team had with Chef Dong is to maintain the authenticity of his cuisine. I don't think Chef Dong is into doing customized work, where he has to adjust substantially in order to cater to the local customers' demands."