Saturday, May 19, 2007

Beijing's Famous Duck

Five weeks into my stay here and I finally got a taste of Beijing's best-known dish.

My colleague took me to Quan Ju De restaurant, just off Wangfujing. It's been there for eons and in the lobby there are blown up black and white photos of Nixon and Kissinger wining and dining with Chairman Mao in the restaurant.

We were sent to the third floor and thankfully a small room off to the side that was a non-smoking section.

And we had a feast... of duck of course.

For starters braised cabbage hearts with chestnuts, a typical home-style Beijing dish, but this one was covered in a cornstarch sauce, and only a few chestnuts.

But the small soup of duck tongue and cuttle fish and egg was delightful, with a vinegary taste. If you haven't had duck tongues, I can't compare it to anything else except maybe chicken feet without the bones.

And we also ordered braised duck gizzard with broccoli. You can only have so many pieces of duck gizzard before you want to move onto the main event!

We ordered half a duck and a chef with a stainless steel trolley came to our table and promptly cut into a whole duck that had a wonderful roasted smell and in a brown russet colour. He quickly cut a few slices off and said we could eat these straight. It was mm-mm oily good.

Our steamed thin pancakes arrived as well as our condiments arrived -- a thick dark sauce with green onion (the white part) cut into strips; sliced cucumbers, green chillis and garlic; mashed garlic and sugar too.

And just to be sure we had half a duck, the chef sliced the head in half too and put that on our table. Gee, thanks.

We ate the duck as fast as we could as the air conditioning was quickly cooling our food. The meat was very juicy, the skin crispy. What a perfect combination!

9 Shuaifuyuan Hutong
Wangfujing Dajie
Dongcheng District
6525 3310

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