(48th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues)
Since 2009, it's been a tradition for my fiance, sister, her friend (let's refer to this friend as "Emma Bella") and I to get together for Chinese New Year dinner. Last year, we went to Peking Duck House (which I just reviewed) and this year we wanted to try something new. Emma Bella had suggested Chiam, a rather high-class establishment in Midtown East, for peking duck and overall Chinese food. I guess he (yes, Emma Bella is a boy) had been there previously and thought it was close to nirvana for peking duck fans around the world.
Of course, being a peking duck fan, I was very keen and signed up for the dinner right away! Between the four of us, we ordered one peking duck, one kung pao chicken, one dry sauteed string beans, and one grand marnier prawns. According to several people on yelp and menupages, the grand marnier prawns are a must-try, so that was definitely on my radar.
The waiter brought out the roasted peking duck for our approval, and then went away to slice it up for us and roll them into pancakes. There was no tableside carving, but that didn't bother me too much. We each got 2 peking duck rolls... the pancakes themselves looked off. They didn't look like normal peking duck pancakes, but more like burrito tortillas! (I give my fiance credit on that one this time.) They were charred and not soft like normal. The duck inside was no better - where was the skin/fat/thinly sliced duck? It was more like duck chunks inside. The texture was yucky. Plus, they had the spring onions in there which I really don't like. I would've rathered they let us pack and roll our own peking duck. Anyway, that was a definite bust... by far the worst peking duck I've ever tasted. No offense, Emma Bella!! This in no way affected my opinion of you as a friend... Haha!!
The other 3 dishes were served to us rather strangely by Chinese standards, and by that I mean not family style. They actually divvied up the 3 entrees into 4 separate plates so we each had our own plate to eat from. The remainder of the food was okay, but definitely not anything to write home about. The grand marnier prawns were cooked with mayonnaise, which I've had before... but it wasn't review-worthy by any stretch of the imagination. I was not impressed with anything regarding the meal, aside from Emma Bella's stealthy arm. He was amazing at re-filling our tea cups from across the table without anyone noticing! :)
Decor/ambience: 3 out of 5 (the decor looks relatively classy, and there are private rooms near the entrance)
Food: 1 out of 5 (I don't know how this really counts as Chinese food...)
Service: 2.5 out of 5 (there were a few waiters who barely understood English)
Value: 1 out of 5 (the $40 peking duck was downright awful)
"It" factor: 0 out of 5
M&M's overall satisfaction: 1 out of 5
Bottom-line: It was really fun hanging out with friends and the overall conversation and joviality fortunately distracted from the fact that the food was terrible. You couldn't pay me to come back here!
A mirror in the middle of the restaurant makes the hall look doubly long