on October 29, 2007
I’m quite proud of one recent certificate of achievement: the seal of assurance that I ate a genuine Peking duck dinner in one of Beijing’s oldest duck establishments. Beijing's Quanjude Hepingmen Roast Duck Restaurant presented my friends and me with this diploma of sorts after our meal, and it included the number duck we had consumed—the count goes back to the first duck served here in 1864.The restaurant, one branch in the popular Quanjude chain, houses several floors of ballroom-size dining rooms and could probably seat 1,000 people. We were shown to the fourth floor, where most of the tables were full of local families, and some with American and Japanese tourists.For 120 yuan each, we had a feast of duck, duck, more duck, and a few other things. The whole duck is carved and served just as it was on this spot in 1864: tableside; cut into a precise number of slices; and presented on the lazy Susan, head and all.It’s served with crepe-thin pancakes, plum sauce, and onions, and together they make the perfect roll: crisp and succulent, sweet and sharp. And Quanjude does it well.For side dishes, we filled our lazy Susan with corn, pine nuts, and peas in sauce; soup; rice; asparagus with mushrooms; and duck-tongue dumplings. Some things were better than others; the vegetable dishes were delicious, but the rice tasted like the boil-in-a-bag variety and the curious soup was lacking in both taste and texture.But overall, once you throw in some oolong tea and Yanjing beer, it was a great dinner and experience. You can’t visit Beijing without indulging in the deliciousness and drama of Peking duck, and Quanjude is not at all a bad place to start.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009