Peking duck as a local specialty


There’s something to be said for enjoying the local dining delicacies when traveling. Whether Peking Duck is actually a local dish in Beijing or not is certainly the subject of some debate – there are a number of folks who suggest it is better in other cities – but given that I was in Beijing and it was available, I figured I’d give it a try. There are a few restaurants generally considered as the upper echelon of options for the experience and I chose Made In China, one of the restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Beijing.

It should be noted that ordering the Peking Duck is very much an experience, not just a meal. And as executed at Made In China it was a rather wonderful one. Not just for the quality of the food, which is incredibly high, but also for the expansive presentation and the expertise and precision with which the entire exercise is carried out.

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The speed and precision with which the waiter carved and presented the duck was incredible.

 

My favorite part of most poultry is the skin. And that also happens to be the part that is most special when it comes to cooking the duck. The skin holds much of the fat from the bird, meaning that it can be chewy or otherwise not so great. But when prepared correctly the skin is crispy and full of flavor, without too much fat dripping off. The staff insisted that it be sprinkled with a bit of sugar to complete the effect. I’m not completely convinced that was needed. It was simply delicious.

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Duck skin, sprinkled with a bit of sugar.

Next up after the skin was the breast meat, served with hoisin sauce, leeks, cucumbers and small pancakes for making small rolls. Not surprisingly, there was nearly as much focus on the presentation of the meats as there was on the quality of the preparation.

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This was followed by the leg meat being carved and presented. The leg was actually my favorite bit, much like it is on other poultry. As served up at Made In China the leg meat was a full ross-section of flavors, including the skin and a layer of fat, in addition to the meat itself. Each bite was a combination of the flavors.

In the end, the amount of food presented for the order is somewhat staggering.

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One of these days I’ll learn to order a meal that doesn’t require a spare stomach. That will be quite sad.

 

From a logistics perspective, making a reservation is highly recommended, both for a table and for a duck. Preparing the duck can take over an hour if you don’t and that’s not much fun. That said, if you do have an hour to spare while waiting you have the opportunity to sample some of the other food on the menu. Thinking that I was going to be waiting that hour I actually ordered an appetizer, scallion pancakes, to nosh on while waiting for the duck to show up. The duck actually was served first. Whoopsie. Not that I’m particularly disappointed as that was also delicious, but it was way too much food for just me.

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For seating, as a single guest they managed to find room for me at one of the bars scattered through the restaurant. I much prefer that arrangement to being seated at a table on my own so that was great. Plus, rather than a cocktail bar this one was located facing into the dumpling kitchen. So in addition to the great food I was treated to the entertainment of watching the chefs work their magic on a variety of different doughy delights.

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Overall the entire experience was wonderful. Yes, it is one of the more expensive meals in Beijing, but it isn’t actually all that pricey. I walked out for under USD $50, including one cocktail and fully stuffed with delicious food. Well worth it for the experience; I highly recommend it.

Read more from this Trip Report under the Dream2011 tag here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

3 Comments

  1. Best one I ever had was at the St. Regis in Beijing… same deal, awesome/flawless presentation, great meal (yes, the skin is best), and just an overall feeling that we had stepped into a world of opulence and luxury that few ever get to sample.

    1. I don’t know that it was truly opulent at Made in China but it was delicious.

      Part of the happy atmosphere was ruined when a group of about 20 loud Americans came in and were a bit rowdy at a couple tables next to me. I got over it, but that certainly wasn’t opulence in any way.

  2. Wow. Made in China is my favorite place. When I was in Beijing for 5 days I had dinner there every day. It was the best food I had in China!

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