Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You say Peking, I say Beijing

To celebrate my Auntie I’s birthday, we had a family dinner at Peking Duck Restaurant in Beverly Hills (493 King Georges Rd, on the main strip). I grew up in this area, so know it fairly well.

Now, there are so many Chinese restaurants on the 500m or so between the train station and Stoney Creek Rd that a new one seems to have opened up each time I visit. Peking Duck has been open a few months and it is still packed each night (a good sign, as Chinese patrons can be fickle, frequenting new restaurants for a few weeks until the novelty wears off). You have to book a week in advance to get in here on weekends.

I loved it, because it was so different to the usual Cantonese food that we normally encounter. The ordering was done by my uncle and aunt, in Mandarin, so I had no idea what was being ordered. So I had to keep asking ‘What’s that?’ every time a strange dish showed up. As in most Chinese restaurants, the service is quick; the first dish appeared about 5 mins after we finished ordering.

I can’t abide duck tongues because of the way they look, so I can’t vouch for these ones. Apparently they were spicy (just look at those green chilis). The seaweed and jellyfish were refreshing, and good.

Then came something I’ve never encountered before – fiddlehead, a crimson-coloured stalk vegetable with a tangy flavour (or ‘unfurled fronds of a young fern harvested for food consumption’ according to Wikipedia). Unusual, I wonder if it’s going to be an ‘in’ vege?. We also had what I thought was lamb, but turned out to be mutton – it was flavoured with cumin and was just like Moroccan lamb fillet!

Another unusual dish was man tau buns (fried and steamed) served with condensed milk for dipping. Weird, but it works, with the buns being nicely moistened by dipping in the gooey milk.

Then, after the seemingly endless array of dishes, the duck arrived (with an identity crisis, it’s called Beijing Duck on the menu). The chef who carved the duck is a real master, with the duck skin having no shred of fat or meat on it at all, just perfect crisp skin. There are different cuts that can be ordered with the duck, and we had the skin only, skin plus meat and meat only options. But you can order any of the 3 types, at different prices.
Again, a new way of eating the duck skin was presented – imagine dipping it in white sugar and strawberry jam. Weirder than the condensed milk and just as tasty.

All up, with all that food, we were out of there in under 90 minutes (compare that to 2½ hours at Kazbah the night before. I’d definitely love to go back to Peking Duck again, just to try some other dishes.


  1. What a great feast :D Happy Bday to your Aunty! Duck tongues are really gooddd! so should trryy at least :) All the dishes look tasty and are making me hungry though..

    I really really want steamed and fried buns with condensed milk now haha haven't had in sooo long :(

  2. Peking duck with sugar and strawberry jam? Egads!

    The skin looks fantastic though and I'm intrigued by the mantou bun and condensed milk combo.

    The fiddleheads look cool too!

  3. hi FFichiban - Thanks. Auntie is happy as long as there's good food and lots of it (like all of us, really!).

    hi Helen - the duck and jam was strange, but now I think about it, isn't it a bit like turkey and cranberry sauce? On the lookout for fiddleheads at the grocer, too!

  4. What a fantastically adventurous meal you had! Duck tongues (although I'm with you, I don't think I could have eaten those, they're not disguised enough), duck with strawberry jam and sugar and Fiddlehead! I've never seen/tried any of those :o

    I think most of the world's problems can be solved with some sweetened condensed milk :P

  5. hi Lorraine - it was certainly a different meal, and one of the better ones.
    And isn't it great that condensed milk has such a unifying effect (world peace is next?).

  6. Yes! Forget the white dove of peace, the white of the sweetened condensed milk of peace! :)