786 Huai Hai Road
I’d heard good reviews on Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, and so dragged Chris there one night. To my utter surprise he said “Hey, I’ve been to Quan Ju De before!” Turns out his workmates took him to the Beijing one when he was there on business a few weeks ago. Having been around for around 150 years, I also learned that it is THE place for duck, a famous restaurant that everyone here seems to know. I should also note that Quanjude is pronounced “chuan-joo-der”. NOT “kwan-jood”, which was what I originally thought it was – much to the horror and amusement of my colleagues. Man, places here need to come up with easier names!!!! And considering the sign down the front is in Chinese characters (so it doesn’t actually even say the words “Quanjude”, we shuffled up and down trying to figure out where the restaurant was, until we asked a lady standing there and she said “It’s HERE” (duh).
That said, it’s worth the hassle of trying to hunt down the restaurant, because it’s so iconic and is famed for serving up the best roast duck. So what did we ordered? Yep, one whole roast duck, please! And then we waited. And waited. And waited. 30 mins later, I was starting to see red – I HATE being kept waiting for my food. When I asked what the problem was, the waiter told me that “the standard waiting time is 45 mins” WTF?!?!?!?!??!!!! The roast ducks are pre-cooked and sitting there, so what are we waiting 45 mins for? Oh, for the carvers to come round. How many are there? I counted TWO(!) carvers in the huge restaurant.. basically filled with people waiting and waiting and waiting. So, you’d think some bright spark working there would say “Well, hire 10 more carvers and obliterate the waiting time”, right? Yeah, that’s too logical, because somehow they just want to stick with their 2 carvers and have people wait. I was gobsmacked.
Grouchy as I was, and also probably due to Chris’ “foreigner” looks, our duck came shortly after. Was fascinated with how the carver deftly cut the duck apart, shaving off piece after piece of skin and meat. It was like an artform 😉 I can only imagine how many he does a day! They ought to find out how to cook the duck in less oil, or at least drain the oil prior to bringing it out.. the slick juices running out was a bit freaky to see. You definitely don’t come here if you’re on a diet 😉
Whe finished, he presented a couple of plates divided up into duck skin, and duck meat. It is AMAZING. There was a special plate of special duck skin that was thick with no fat, but crisp.. yet it melted once you popped it into your mouth. I’ve never had a roast duck with that kinda skin before – utterly spectacular. And the lean meat was generous and came piled up, with minimal fat. There was another plate of skin+meat+fat all together, like what you get at regular roast duck places. Basically something for everyone 😉 One whole roast duck is definitely too much for both of us though.. we were totally “ducked out” afterwards 😉
That didn’t stop us from ordering the duck soup, however. It was a beautiful broth that was creamy with duck flavour, yet light on the stomach. Absolutely delicious. We were so full we couldn’t even stuff in dessert – boohiss! A satisfying (almost too much so) meal, however a pricey one at that. We probably won’t go back ourselves, but definitely when we have visitors in town..
Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
Pictorial menu – woohoo!
Duck soup – really light and so tasty
Carving up our whole roast duck
All sorts of condiments and crepes
One of the many plates of crisp shining skin and tasty lean meat
Peking duck pancake. DIVINE.