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For those who have read Gavin Menzies“1421: The Year China Discovered the World” you will be familiar with Zheng He. A Muslim Eunuch leading Emporer Zhu Di’s treasure fleet to circumnavigate the world and accurately map longitude. Recognised as the catalyst for China’s shipbuilding business, international trade and providing maps for Columbus to “discover” America, his legacy lives on through DNA tested descendants of his fleet in many parts of the world. A fascinating read, but let’s focus on brunch; Zheng He’s Duck Brunch at Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Sala,. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Mina a’Salam @ Madinat Jumeirah; Entrance to Zheng He’s; Chopstix under glass

Pull up at Mina a’Salam’s entrance and descend the stairwell to the waterfront restaurant or, if you have time on your hands, arrive at Mina Al Qasr and hop on the abra that runs between the 2 hotels. Arriving by abra transports the body and prepares the mind for a Chinese culinary journey.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinate Jumeirah. Dubai.
Zheng He’s waterside; View from Zheng He’s

Traditional Beijing Kao Ya (Beijing BBQ Duck) banquets consist of, a very auspicious, “8” duck dishes utilising the entire duck. All meat, skin, offal, head, feet and bones are used for soup, stir-fries, noodle dishes and the famous duck pancakes. At Zheng He’s Duck Brunch the same concept is used albeit with a contemporary twist. On the menu, 8 duck dishes are listed using liver, meat, skin, even duck egg and without a doubt, the bones have been used for stock. It’s the execution of each dish utilising these ingredients that have us salivating. Zheng He’s Duck Brunch doesn’t stop at duck, with additional seafood and beef dishes and a nod to the lazy susan as a tasting platter of 6 desserts. This brunch is not for the faint-hearted or the petite eater.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Beijing Kao Ya or Beijing BBQ Duck @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

Our BBQ duck is sliced tableside and comes with traditional pancake accompaniments; sliced cucumber, spring onions, hoisin and plum sauces. The table fills with all of the appetisers at once; duck spring rolls, steamed duck buns, duck liver dumplings and a seafood addition of pot stickers. This is a meal in itself and not at all low carb friendly. We need 30 minutes before the main course challenge.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Duck Spring Rolls; Duck Liver Sui Mai; Seafood Pot Stickers @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

Sharing cocktails” have our attention and we order the Snope Dragon. A blend of white & gold rum, pineapple purée, lemongrass and rosemary topped with ginger ale. The Dragon’s Fire; dark rum based, cinnamon syrup, passionfruit syrup & pulp finished with fresh apple juice. The 3rd option and the one our waiter insists outdoes the others, is the Flying Duck. Tequila gold, lime juice, orange marmalade, Angostura bitters, syrup and a pinch of ginger. We agree; this is the pick.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Dragon’s Fire; Flying Duck; Snope Dragon; Sharing Cocktails @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

7 main course dishes arrive starting with Wok fried Canadian lobster in ginger garlic sauce, quickly followed by smoked duck breast in black pepper sauce, deep fried duck fillet in lemon sauce, Flat rice noodles with duck and black bean, fried rice with duck and garlic, claypot seabass with garlic and slow cooked wagyu brisket with Chinese buns.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Wok fried Canadian Lobster; Deep fried Duck Fillet in Lemon Sce; Smoked Duck Breast in Black Pepper Sce @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

Serves are generous and dishes flavoursome but sadly there is considerable waste. With the amount of part eaten dishes returning to the kitchen a reduction in main course dishes would likely go unnoticed, afterall there is dessert!

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Maadinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Wok fried Flat Noodles with Duck & Black Beans; Slow cooked Wagyu Brisket & Chinese Buns; Fried Rice with Duck & Garlic; Claypot Seabass in Garlic Butter @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

Seasonal fruits with chocolate coated lychee gelato was my pick but French toast with plum compote came a close 2nd. Chinese layer cakes, Double chocolate green tea financiers, duck egg creme brulee and mango coconut “egg” made up the rest of the platter.

Zheng He's. Mina a'Salam. Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai.
Fresh Fruit & Chocolate coated Lychee Gelato; Assorted Dessert Platter @ Zheng He’s Duck Brunch

The fizz of choice is prosecco and is perfectly acceptable. Those looking for French wont find it here, there are 2 packages only, with alcohol at AED 495 or AED 395 without. There is plenty to eat, fizz glasses are not neglected and there’s even a chance to dust off your Mandarin with the wait staff from Guangxi and Hebei provinces. Zheng He’s Duck Brunch: it’s a thing we love….