For Chinese New Year this year, my coworkers and I decided to wear red and have a Peking duck feast for lunch. We went to the Midtown East location of Peking Duck House, closer to work (food is identical to the Chinatown one). I was anticipating this meal, after all, peking duck is one of my favorite ways to eat duck and the inspiration of my ChubbyChineseGirl sandwich.
I suggest skipping the Peking Duck Lunch for $26.50 (or any pre-fixe). Always order a la carte family style. Whole duck $50 with 2 dishes plus tax and tip came to $25 per person.
The four of us shared a whole Peking duck, cut table side. The duck is prepared in advance, first by pumping air into the bird to loosen the skin, then drenched in hot water and dried before roasting with a maltose coating in the oven for hours. I like watching the process of separating thin crisp layers of skin and minimal amount of meat from the bird, piece by piece… totally mouthwatering. Though they leave most of the meat on, without following the traditional 2 way duck courses where a milky duck soup is served along side. Here, soup is additional cost, which really hurts the flow of the experience. Some places in China even take the rest of the meat and make it into a mid course, shredded and stir fried, which totally makes sense to utilize the whole bird.
Ask to wrap yourself. That’s part of the fun, otherwise, it’s just like someone handing you a chinese burrito. Plus this way you can build it your way. I like a good amount of sweet hoisin sauce, tons of scallion and cucumber, then topped with 2-3 pieces of duck. A mouthful of sweet and savory. The crisp duck skin has a nice crunch to it, a bit oily but immediately lightened by the refreshing cucumber and brightened by thin strips of spring onion. Their house made pancake (wrapper) is pipping hot, a bit chewy with a good pull to it. Holds everything nicely without falling apart or letting any bit sneak out.
We also added simply sauteed chinese broccoli with garlic and their version of mapo tofu with beef (the original dish calls for pork and sichuan peppercorn, which weren’t present). Though the tofu was different, it wasn’t bad, maybe a change of name would make more sense.
Even though Peking Duck House doesn’t have the best peking duck I’ve ever had, nor does it follow the full experience of traditional joints I’ve visited in Beijing. I still find myself revisiting every once in a while when craving calls, maybe because this is the closest I’ll get in NY.
I can’t overlook the additional cost for soup. It makes perfect sense to have soup with all the left over bones right? Anyways, we asked for the carcasses to go and my coworker made soup for us the next day. Double happiness.
P.S.Chubby’s Rating: (closer to 4)
236 East 53rd St
28 Mott Street