This past Saturday, on KCRW’s Good Food, our foodie hero Jonathan Gold gently beheaded WP24′s Beijing Duck for being served improperly. WP24′s carver was chided for slicing “slabs of duck” consisting of sections of skin attached to the duck flesh & thus producing ruinous results. Apparently, eating the skin only, with the meat served in other courses, is the “way it should be served”, and the “way to enjoy [the duck] the best” is just to eat nothing but Beijng skin wrapped in crepes?
Herewith are photos of 2 of the supposedly better Beijing duck houses in both Hong Kong & Beijing from our recent Asia trip which graphically refute the above Beijing duck criticism.
on Open Rice
1st fl., 42 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: 2366-401; 2366-5839
This Beijing duck house is at least 40 years old. They serve the duck traditionally; a few pieces of pure un-adulterated duck skin is carved tableside, but the remaining duck is sliced with fractions of the skin attached to juicy duck meat. At US$35++ per duck, if I was only served the skin, I’d demand an aromatic food massage with duck fat and a happy ending involving my meat wrapped in some fluffy bao’s.
Quan Ju De 全聚德
This place needs no explanation. It’s a Commie-recognized national treasure. At over 100+ years old (founded 1864), this is 1 of the 2 de facto Beijing duck for foreigner & locals alike. Some folks also prefer the dinky hole of Li Qun, some Da Tong for the crispier skin. Me? Let’s stick to the state-run venture. Think: if the chefs don’t perform, they get sent to the Gulags. Li Qun might be a cute entrepreneurial story, but Quan Ju De is run with an iron fist. This is Beijing duck QC at its best. Guess what? Most of the duck is served with plentiful flesh attached to skin. A small plate of skin-only is served first, but no one, not even the Beijingers, ate the skin straight.
Having written all that, it’s time for the caveat emptor: I have never tried WP24′s Peking Duck, nor will I ever simply due to price/convenience; but it seems the dismissal of WP24′s Beijing duck efforts simply because one doesn’t enjoy BJ duck beyond its covers is doing the chef a major disservice.
And in similar stubborn fashion, I must confess I much prefer the steamed bao’s instead of the flat pancakes wraps, no matter what the hell is served at all the Beijing duck houses in China.
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