7.146 Peking Duck


30 (Mon) May 2016

Peking Duck


at Jing Zun

-Dongzhimen, Beijing-


One of my on-going initiatives : 2nd International Symposium on Tobacco Control & Law (ISTCL — pronounced “Is Tickle”), a one-day event aiming to raise public awareness and support for tobacco control (tomorrow mark’s the one-year anniversary of Beijing’s landmark smoke-free law) + to advocate policymakers for stronger tobacco laws (national smoke-free legislation) — similar model to the one in Korea a couple years back (see generally 5.229 Really Good Food) (which focused on tobacco litigation) — we’ll doing a third one in Japan at the end of July.

Mission to China, Day 2 (see previously 7.145 Some Kind of…).

In Beijing.  Arrived yesterday.  Here to attend a tobacco meeting, today.  Flying back to Manila, tomorrow.

Jing Zun is a Chinese restaurant.  Located directly across the street from the hotel, a couple blocks away from the country office.  Specializes in Peking Duck — exactly what I had in mind, having Peking Duck at the source, for the first time (see generally 2.108 Beijing Duck).

Peking Duck is a Chinese duck dish.  Traditionally made with the Pekin breed, usually no longer the case, particularly outside of China.  Whole bird, air pumped into the carcass to separate the skin from the flesh, boiled, hung to dry, glazed — not so much for flavor, typically kept simple with soy sauce and sugar, mostly to enhance the crispiness during roasting — roasted in an oven until the fat renders and the skin gets really crispy — the separated + crispy skin is the most essential element, which most places fail (see for example 1.271 Beijing Duck).  Often served “three ways” (see for example 5.256 Lapu-Lapu with Chopped Chili) : (i) starting with the skin only, topped with sliced scallions and cucumbers, plus plum sauce, wrapped in thin pancakes; (ii) followed by the meat diced and stir-fried with vegetables; (iii) closing with a soup and/or congee made with the leftover flesh and bones.  Once royal cuisine, now a national culinary treasure.

79 CYN = about $12
Apparently, sauce is not really the point.

Often confused, Peking Duck is totally different, in preparation and plating, in taste and texture, in history and stature, than Cantonese-style siu mei roast duck/goose (see for example 3.141 Flying Roast Goose) — like the difference between prime rib and BBQ ribs — though many places will serve the Cantonese type (easier to prepare and maintain) in the Peking fashion (as described above) (see for example 5.244 Scrambled Egg Whites…).

Unfiltered Wheat Beer (1.5) : too tart, too flat, for my tastes.
Grilled Mushrooms Fried Spinach (1.5) : bland, kinda dry.
Fern with Mushroom (1.0) : bland, kinda slimy.
Braised Sea Cucumber with Beef Tendons (2.0) : ….eh.
Shrimp & Potato in Spicy Cream Sauce (1.25) : “spicy” = mustard + “cream” = mayo; bland and clunky, unsophisticated.
Wheat Noodles Tossed with Minced Pork and Soy Sauce (1.5) : the original jjajang myeon, first time encountering the real deal at the source (see generally 5.072 Zha Jiang Mian…)…
…the soy (black bean) sauce much drier, both in terms of taste and texture…
…much simpler overall, though — for me, personally — far less satisfying than the saucy Korean style (see for example 3.215 Suta Wang Son Jjajang Myeon).

Overall, the meal was meh.

My new “leave no regrets” policy, in which I get everything on the menu that I could possibly want, so as to maximize the opportunity and not to harbor lingering doubts that the meal could’ve been better had I just ordered this, or that.

The Peking Duck was, in particular, sorry to say, kinda meh.  Certainly the crispiest that I’ve ever experienced, but perhaps a bit too much, more on the side of crunky*.  But beyond the bite, not much flavor.  Oh well.

Although I will of course continue to explore this dish, I’m currently in favor of the Cantonese style + Peking fashion (as described above).




*I just coined this word.

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