Thursday, September 01, 2016

Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine

One of the most exciting parts of traveling around Beijing is tasting local food. But I’m not willing to go as far as tasting exotic local food of fried seashores, scorpions, starfishes and snakes in Wangfujing district. If you are adventurous enough to try and eat everything, then go ahead. But I think, it’s a must-try when a first-timer Beijing is trying eating the traditional Chinese cuisine of roasted Peking Duck.

Authentic Chinese cuisine.
Roasted Peking Duck is a famous duck dish from Beijing. Its origin and preparation dates back to the imperial era of China which by the way it started as a cuisine available only at the imperial kitchen for the imperial family only. What is unique about this roast duck cuisine is its preparation. Air is pumped under the skin of the meat to separate fat from skin. The duck is glazed by maltose syrup outside and left for a day to have a flavor. It is traditionally roasted in either closed over or hung oven which invented at imperial kitchens. After roasting, it is traditionally carved in front of the diners.

In Beijing, roasted Peking duck has been synonymous the Chinese cuisine as this cuisine has existed since the ancient times of China. Reading throughout all of the travel blogs about China, I learned that tasting this cuisine has always been included in their activity in Beijing. This made me curious on trying it when I had a chance to visit the city as most the bloggers says it’s a must-taste when in China. And that is also why I prioritize it in including this in my activity in the city as this was definitely a must-taste. I mean, I really saved enough money for a roasted Peking duck dinner since I heard it’s quite a pricey dinner for a budget traveler like me.

The art of slicing roasted Peking Duck right in front of you.
Crystal dumplings!
Pork balls with fried crackers.
One of the prominent restaurants that serve roasted Peking Duck is Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant which branches can be found throughout the city. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant’s history dates back to 1864 before it became a chain of restaurant specializing in duck cuisine. Other popular restaurants that also serve this cuisine as well as other Chinese cuisine were Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant and Bianyifang. We choose Quanjude, because of its popularity, many branches near our hotel and good dinner reviews about it.

We went to Quanjude’s Wangfujing branch. We were warmly welcome by receptionists wearing a traditional Chinese dress – qipao. We were then led to our table and proceed to order first the roasted Peking Duck. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant also serves other Chinese cuisine so we also tried Shrimp Crystal Dumpling and Deep fried pork balls. I thought that the roasted Peking duck dinner would only be an ordinary dinner of tasting authentic Chinese cuisine. But it turned out to be an exceptional experience of my visit to Beijing and China.

A slice of perfection - Roast peking duck meat.
The roasted Peking duck was shown to us on from our table on how it be will cut in a traditional way. I was impressed on how it was being prepared in front of us. It is carefully cut in calculated manner and prepared in a pattern-guided way. It only shows the preserved tradition of how roasted Peking duck is being prepared in fine dining Chinese restaurant-style.

When it was cut already, it was served to us by parts in three separate dishes - meaty part, back park which is mainly composed of fat and skin and head part. Then it is served with its garnishes on separate dishes - cucumber sticks, spring onions and sweet plum sauce. And they you have the pancake wrapper. I don’t know how to eat it which sends us to laugh over our dinner night with my travel mates. All of us we’re clueless on how to eat Peking duck! But the receptionist, were so kind to us knowing that we are tourists and shown to us on how to eat roasted Peking duck in a traditional way. The proper way to eat the roasted duck was putting a piece of the meat in the wrapper and put some raw vegetables like cucumber sticks and onion spring with it. Put a right amount plum sauce into it then wrap it close. Of course, we tried doing it after a sample made by the receptionist but I really had a hard time doing it using the chopsticks as I’m not really used to it. When we were tired of doing it, we funnily resorted to do it using our bare hands.

 Making a Peking Duck wrapped in pancake with spoon and fork instead of the traditional chopsticks! 
My first prepared Peking Duck wrapped in pancake with veggies and condiments... Whew!
The prepared pancake wrapped meat with condiments and flavors makes a texture in the mouth and bursting with plays of flavors while eating. But then I also tried eating the meat part of the roasted duck.  The roasted Peking duck is truly oily as what I read with other food reviewers but it was sweet, juicy and the taste is intact within the meat. The meat’s juiciness blends sweetly with the taste of its sugar roasted skin. I personally love this cuisine. For me, a taste of it is a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine!

The waiter then handed to me our Commemoration Card of Quanjude Roast Duck – a certification that we had a Peking duck at the restaurant with the code of the roast duck and seal that it passed the safety food standards of China. Much to my delight, it was an authentic proof that we had a Roasted Peking Duck dinner in Beijing! The card also functions as a postcard at the back and ready to be send anywhere in the world complete with a postal seal to let everyone know that you had the famous Peking Duck of China.

The Peking Duck dining experience!
The certificate that says we had an authentic roast Peking Duck experience!
A memorable birthday night dinner and last night in Beijing.
The roasted Peking duck dinner in Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant was an exceptional dining experience when in Beijing. It was a great experience for me as a first-time visitor of China and hunter for a taste of its authentic cuisines. It was an added discovery and appreciation of Chinese culture for me as a traveler. And it happened so timely on my visit since that dining experience was my birthday dinner night and last night in Beijing.

*Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant - Wangfujing branch
No.9 Shuaifuyuan Hutong, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Opening hours: 1100H-1330H and 1630H-2000H.

Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my birthday trip adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:
+Beijing - A Beguiling City
+Winter Sonata in China
+Roaming through Beijing
+One Spring Day in Beijing
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine
+Wangfujing's Lively Street Life
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, and a very memorable last night in China to capped off my Birthday Trip 2012.


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