Dining Out: Peking Duck offers expertly roasted birds and elevated Chinese dishes – Ottawa Citizen
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90 George St ., 613-860-0888, pekingduck. ca
Open: 11 a. m. to 9 p. meters. daily
Prices: roast half-duck $48, roast duck $88; mains $18. 99 to $65. 99
Access: restaurant is on second floor, elevator available
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Ottawa, it seems, has waited a very long time for the Peking duck it deserves.
Not only did it take the recently opened and unambiguously named Peking Sweet more than a year to launch after signs that announced its impending arrival were posted within the ByWard Marketplace.
A search of this newspaper’s digital archives going back to 1985 found just a few fleeting mentions of Peking duck in its restaurant reviews. And the one detailed account I found was far from glowing.
In 1997, my immediate predecessor wrote of the Peking duck at the now-defunct Fuliwah restaurant: “The duck skin (was) crispy and salty and good in a bad-for-you way. You’re meant to roll chunks associated with skin and a piece of scallion into a thin pancake you’ve first smeared with hoisin sauce. Then you lick the particular grease as it trickles down your wrists. This is followed by a platter of duck bones you can pick away at. The bones had been topped with tofu, watercress and mushrooms. The next course was a pretty wimpy sweet soup… and finally came a chow mein in which the duck meat has been fried along with carrots, bean sprouts, green onions plus mushrooms. This particular last dish was the success of the meal (which isn’t exactly high praise). ”
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Hardly an euphoric endorsement for what ought to be one of the world’s great beef roasts poultry feasts.
Happily, this new restaurant on George Street, located on the second ground of what was once the Real Sports Bar and Grill, helps to restore the honour of its titular dish. It also upholds the reputation of its brand, which is in fact Quanjude, a Chinese chain of Peking sweet restaurants that sprang from a progenitor in Beijing that will opened within 1864.
The particular chain has grown to include not only multiple locations in China but also outposts in Hong Kong, Lisbon, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver and now Ottawa, where a great many Chinese expats have settled in recent years, often after attending post-secondary studies in Canada. For them, Quanjude is a known quantity, all the more so because in The far east, state banquets and receptions for foreign dignitaries and celebrities were often held at one of the chain’s areas.
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I don’t know why the Ottawa restaurant offers dropped the particular “Quanjude” from its name. But its menu, an imposing, hardbound, bilingual (Chinese and English) book filled with not only lavish photos but also tasting notes, proudly recounts the Quanjude story. Except for its English lettering, the restaurant’s exterior clearly resembles the outside of the chain’s first Beijing location.
While chosen Ottawa restaurants have had Peking duck on the menu for decades, it is fact a multi-course delicacy that requires expertise, equipment and planning in the kitchen. Even at Peking Duck, the whole roast duck (between $88 and $108) must be ordered a day in advance along with the table reservation.
That Peking sweet here can be ordered with a side associated with caviar (up to $110 for 30 grams of wild Atlantic sturgeon caviar) denotes that this is a place for indulging and spending. However , the particular renovated, post-sports-bar premises, which are brightly lit and surrounded by a bright red ceiling and walls, were filled up with what appeared to be casual gatherings of families and friends, not dignitaries and celebrities, rolling duck meat plus skin in their pancakes.
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Interior of Peking Duck in the ByWard MarketLet me tell you what we did not order before detailing what we did eat, as the sprawling menu here offers many high-end Chinese meals drawing from different culinary styles.
All of us did not have any of the soups, including the pricey and contentious bird’s nest and shark’s fin sauces. We did not have lobster or whole fish, as good as they looked when the arrived at neighbouring, larger tables. We all passed on pigeon, eel and sea cucumber because we didn’t want to lose our focus on sweet. We skipped spicier dishes such as kung pao chicken or shrimp or mapo tofu.
We did start with duck offal, after asking for some signature appetizers that were not available, we were told, because the restaurant had been still in the soft opening phase.
While the promise associated with salty duck liver ($15. 99) brought foie gras to mind, the slow-cooked slices were a little chalky plus did not fulfill the menu’s promise of a “tender as gelatin” treat. Better were the particular duck hearts ($25. 99), which had savoury flavours and crisp-chewy textures that appealed.
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Then came our 1st waves of Peking duck ($88), delivered after a server pointed out in order to us that will on the other side from the dining room, the chef was carving our own bird. (In some Peking duck dining places, carvings are done tableside and we do miss that demonstration here. )
The most crisp sweet skin, taken from the bird’s chest, arrived first, with sugar on the side that we had been told has been for dipping. Then emerged a pair of ceramic ducks, loaded with more pores and skin and meat, which all of us placed in the supple, steamed pancakes and garnished along with scallions plus sauce before we dug in. While I had no complaints, other at my desk found the duck a touch dry, but not dishearteningly so.
Three some other dishes proved to be good choices. Sauteed pea shoots along with king oyster mushroom slices ($25. 99) were fresh and lip-smackingly savoury. A stew associated with tofu with crab roe ($26. 99) was mild and delicate but very tasty just the same. Plump, tender prawns along with crisp asparagus and truffle paste ($36. 99) were umami-rich treats.
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Sweet broth, which our menus told us would be milk-white and rich, was our savoury finish. It was just a little less duck-y than expected, but still a satisfying conclusion.
For dessert, golden duckling-shaped pastries ($21. 99) full of date paste were purchased mostly with regard to there cuteness and Instagram-ability. That said, they tasted better than mere novelties.
Duck pastries with date filling.
Overall, I thought the experience right here with Peking duck from its core was quite good. Whilst I’ve experienced arguably better Peking duck in Vancouver and New York, I also paid significantly more for those birds.
Even if you have to save up a bit very first, I’d recommend this cafe both for its specialty and its other offerings. Not only provides superior Peking duck been slow to come to Ottawa, the same could be said of Chinese fine dining. Peking Duck may be a chain outpost, but it ticks off both of these boxes.
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