Beijing: Peking Duck

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A hanging Peking Duck

Peking Duck is the dish of Beijing (formerly Peking), and has been around since the imperial era. I love Peking Duck so much and could not wait to try it in Beijing. Koen and I weren’t in Beijing so long, so we had to decide how many times we’d eat it and where. In the end we decided to try Peking Duck 2 ways: more modern and lean at Da Dong and more rustic and traditional at Siji Minfu.

*At the end of the post I’ll show you step by step how to prepare a Peking duck pancake in the correct way!

A bit of background from Serious Eats (if you’re really interested in knowing everything about Peking Duck and how it’s prepared, you should click the link!):

Peking Duck appeared at early emperors’ feasts but it wasn’t introduced to the public until 1864, when Yang Quanren opened Quanjude restaurant […] where the technique of hanging the ducks upright in an oven heated with fruitwood fire was introduced. Prior to that, ducks were roasted lying down in a closed oven. The hanging technique leaves more space for rendering fat to drain, resulting in crisper, drier skin.

Once your duck is ready, the chef comes to your table to prepare the dish – dinner and a show! First the crispy skin is sliced off and presented to us to dip in sugar. The darker meat is also sliced and presented on a different plate to be dipped in mashed garlic. After, the chef begins to finely slice the duck breast which we’ll use to make pancakes, along with adding Hoison sauce, cucumbers and scallions. Yum Yum Yum.

The rest of the meat, like the legs and wings, is on a separate plate to eat (but I was always too full). At Da Dong we also received a duck bone broth as a palate cleanser at the end, made especially for us with our duck.

Da Dong

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Da Dong is where you go for ultra-modern Peking duck. The meat is very lean and less fatty than more traditional places in the city. Da Dong also has won a lot of awards in Beijing for Best Chinese Restaurant and Best Peking Duck. Because we had been traveling so long (Russia, Mongolia, and then ending in China), we decided to start with the less fatty version.

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Duck chopstick holders

 

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Our chef presenting our duck

 

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Our beautiful duck

 

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Crispy duck skin with sugar

 

 

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Preparing our duck

 

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Beautifully sliced and presented duck for our pancakes

 

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The extras – drumsticks, wings, etc.

 

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The sides for the pancakes

 

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The pancakes

 

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Making a pancake

 

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Duck broth brought out after our meal

 

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Still not sure what fruit this is – a cross between an apple and pear – brought out for dessert

 

Siji Minfu

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For our second evening in Beijing, we headed to Siji Minfu for a more classic, traditional experience. At Da Dong we could make a table reservation, but at Siji Minfu we had to wait 1.5 hours outside before coming in. Luckily you could order drinks, enjoy free veggies and snacks, and sit in chairs outside! I will say I like the Peking Duck better at Da Dong (although both ducks were excellent!), but enjoyed the experience at Siji Minfu much more!

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No Chinese beer available

 

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Again the same fruit, but this time brough out at the beginning

 

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We decided to take a starter at Siji Minfu – zha jian miang – hand-pulled noodles served with a bowl of oily fermented soybean paste, along with an array of toppings—usually slivered cucumber and watermelon radish, along with bean sprouts and fresh soy beans. It’s a Beijing speciality and is soooo delicious! It’s like the Chinese version of spaghetti bolognese – but no meat or tomatoes!

Koen and I really struggled. We knew that this was a speciality and wanted to order it, but never thought to look up how to eat it?We were brought a bowl of noodles, and a ton of veggies. Our waitress shook her head when she saw us trying to dip our noodles. She then motioned that everything needed to go into the bowl for us to mix together. After trying to mix everything, she grabbed the bowl and chopsticks from Koen and did it herself! But then we knew for next time and it was so so so delicious!

 

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Our chef slicing the duck at our table

 

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Beautifully sliced duck for the pancakes

 

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The pancakes

 

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The sides

How to eat Peking Duck

 

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Pieces of skin get dipped in sugar to eat as your starter – you receive the skin first to eat while the chef prepares the rest of the duck for your pancakes

 

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After the skin, you receive pieces of meat from the chef that you dip into garlic – again this is all before the meat is prepared for the pancakes

 

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Dip the duck in the sauce (don’t spread the sauce on the pancake!) and place on one end of the pancake, along with the pickles, cucumber, and scallions

 

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Fold the pancake in half

 

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Fold over one end

 

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Then the other

 

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And lastly turnover and you’re ready to eat! BTW – showing the folds of your pancake is considered rude so don’t forget to turn it over 🙂

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