On this night, after spending most of the day working on two lengthy articles, I caught up with a friend of a colleague who has been living in Beijing for more than 20 years.
He recommended either lamb hotpot or Peking duck, and even though I’ve had it before I decided to go with the duck again, as I’ve never been all that fond of lamb or hotpots.
This particular Peking duck place we visited was another famous one, and probably the most famous of them all. It’s a franchise called Quanjude (全聚德), and it has a history of almost 150 years. You gotta be pretty good to be able to last that long, right?
The Quanjude we met at is located near Shuangjing subway station. I originally wanted to catch a cab there but it was damn near impossible around rush hour, so I decided to catch the subway instead. I thought the subway was crowded before, but rush hour is a whole different ball game. You don’t really move voluntarily — you simply get carried by the crowds. You really have to experience it personally to understand what I mean.
Quanjude is regarded as fairly expensive, with half a duck costing around 200 yuan (AU$31). Like the other place I went to, you start off with the crispy duck skin (with dippable sugar), followed by duck meat wrapped in thin, hot pancakes plus hoisin sauce, cucumber and so forth.
We also got a bunch of other duck related dishes, such as sliced duck feet with a spicy and tangy Chinese mustard and duck gizzards, which and looked and tasted surprisingly similar to BBQ pork. I wouldn’t usually get those things but they were better than I expected.
The better duck side dishes were the soup, which was made with duck bones and was thick and full of natural flavour, as well as the fried duck meat on skewers. There was also a stir fry duck served in a crispy nest inside a lettuce (similar to a san choy bau) which was exquisite. To even out the food groups we added a stir fry broccoli, which was nothing special but got the job done.
While I didn’t pay for the meal I believe it cost around 370 yuan, which included a couple of beverages, one of which was a beer. Compared to the 60-80 yuan per head at Liu Zhai Shi Fu (刘宅食府), Quanjude is notably more expensive. But was it also notably better? I can’t say that it was. Definitely on about the same level, but all things considered Liu Zhai Shi Fu is better value for money.
Address: 8 Guangqumenwai Dajie, Shuangjing, Beijing
(There are plenty of franchises, including at Wangfujing, and the Hepingmen store is supposedly the largest Peking duck restaurant in the world)
Price: 150-200 yuan (AU$23-31) per head