Peking Duck became a signature dish of Chinese cuisine only in the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, duck has been roasted in China for the past 1500 years. It became popular in the Ming dynasty as a court menu dish. Peking Duck originated from Nanjing area.
I like Peking Duck, but can tell you that its taste really varies from one restaurant to the next, depending on whether the duck is roasted in a closed or hung oven. So, different restaurants serve it differently with various side dishes.
Usually, Peking duck is carved in front of the patrons.In some restaurants they serve the warm skin with sugar – this might sound weird, but it tastes delicious! Try it. The meat of Peking Duck is then served with pancakes, leek and cucumber, celery sticks and sweet soy sauce. Don’t spoil a pleasure of wrapping the duck into a pancake yourself – do not allow a waiter to prepare it for you. The process itself is an important part of tasting Peking Duck. The bones of the duck are used to prepare a broth. I must admit that children usually prefer eating duck without steamed pancakes.
Tourists often try to find the oldest restaurant in Beijing restaurant that serves Peking duck.
The oldest is Bianyifang, which has a history that goes back 600 years. They serve Peking Duck, duck delicacies and Shandong style cuisine.
Bianyifang is much more than a restaurant – it is a sort of museum, as it has rooms that display the history of the restaurant – the hung oven, an ancient dining room. For some time it belonged to one Chinese family, now it belongs to the Chinese government as a part of Chinese heritage. Nevertheless, if you are lucky, you still can meet a member of the family there, who were the former owners of the restaurant.
Bianyifang still roasts duck in the traditional way – in a closed oven, so it remains juicier.
When you enter the restaurant, you see a lot of photos of foreign leaders on the walls – they all tasted Peking duck here. In a way, the restaurant is a tourist destination, which is easy to guess, but it is also popular among the local Chinese. I advice you to come here to at least try the original taste of Beijing duck.
I will write about other Beijing Duck restaurants in future posts.
Have you visited this restaurant? Let me know what you think.
Bianyifang /便宜坊: Corner of Qianmen Dajie and Xianyukou Street 前门大街东侧鲜鱼口老字号餐饮一条街
Working hours: Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., weekdays 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.