Monday, September 28, 2015

Roast Duck, Beijing 北京烤鸭

With China bullet train, Beijing - also the gateway to Forbidden City 紫禁城, Temple of Heaven 天坛, Summer Palace 颐和园- all UNESCO World Heritage Sites with footprints of the Ming and Qing dynasty (Qing being the last imperial dynasty of China) - is less than five hours from Zhengzhou, Henan.

Some say mutton hotpot 涮羊肉 is a must when visiting Beijing. But it was summer and hotpot was really not enticing in sweltering heat!

Others say, the visit to Beijing is not complete if you miss the Great Wall or Beijing Roast Duck. We did both. The Great Wall of China, also UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to Qin dynasty (though unfortunately the section from Qin dynasty is already much in ruins) to the existing main wall that dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Spectacular and magnificent the wall is, the only flip-side is the massive crowds walking The Great Wall - BaDaLing entrance.

Though it is not our first time eating Peking Roast Duck, it is our first time  feasting on Peking Roast Duck in Beijing. There are two traditional methods of cooking Peking Roast Duck that have resulted in the two main schools of roast duck preparation: closed-oven method 焖炉 vs open-flame open-oven 挂炉 method.

The oldest technique of closed-oven roasting method originated from BianYiFang 便宜坊 , established in 1861.

Way before the trip, we have made plans to have roast duck everyday. Well, Beijing is all about roast duck. And considering our short stay, having roast duck everyday is actually...hmmm....not going overboard or being overly ambitious. There are so many roast duck food establishments in Beijing.

Duck feast at BianYi Fang: sliced duck pieces with crispy duck skin with moist and succulent duck meat, braised duck liver, duck feet in mustard

The other traditional method (but still newer than closed-oven roasting) is open-flame open-oven roasting method made famous by QuanJuDe. We did not go to QuanJuDe and tried DaDong 大董烤鴨店 instead, which also uses the open-flame open-oven roasting method but has differentiated itself from QuanJuDe by selling itself on its duck being leaner than other roast duck joints that uses similar open-flame open-oven method. Indeed, the duck skin was super crispy and the meat was lean but the meat especially the duck breast tend to be drier (not as moist compared to the duck breast at BianYiFang).

The upscale modern ambiance of DaDong is also a contrast from BianYiFang traditional and comfortable local-dining atmosphere. We prefer BianYiFang for its quality of duck, food and comfort dining to DaDong.

Continue reading our China trip here.

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