A decent crispy shredded duck is a great thing indeed. Pulled apart with forks, covered in gloopy hoi sin sauce, stuffed in a pancake, and then packed into a face. It’s reliable. The Peking Duck at Peace Garden, which in olden times was the Czech Bar on Booth Street West, is a different ball game. In fact , it’s barely even the same sport.
This bronzed, shining beast arrives on a trolley in proud ceremony, and is delicately carved by a skilled gentleman with a giant razor sharp cleaver in front of you, the delicate pieces of duck carefully and methodically placed on a wooden board. We watched deeply impressed while drinking beers from buddha-shaped bottles.
The pieces of duck are then transferred to a warming dish (in the shape of a duck) and placed proudly on the table, with a heap of soft pancakes, the sweet sauce and the customary spring onions and cucumber.
I’ve never had better. Ever. The skin is paper thin and crisp, the pieces of duck seriously seasoned – perhaps they’re cured or brined, but something’s going on – plus meltingly smooth. The sauce is not some mass produced, over-sweet goo, yet just sweet enough and complex along with aniseed spices.
Indulge in more of Ben Arnold’s food writing covering Higher Manchester…
The particular menu notes its place as ‘one of the world’s greatest dishes’, usually reserved for state banquets. Hard to argue with when it’s done like this. Though it has ruined crispy duck for me personally a bit. Nothing else will be able to hold a candle to it.
Peace Backyard seems to have appeared with little fanfare. Prior to the Czech Pub, it was a bar called Frankie’s with jazzy signage, and now it is perhaps — though a few further research may be required – the best Chinese restaurant in the city. I can’t at the moment think of a better one.
Suffice to say the duck was not the only highlight. Arriving in quick succession was Mao’s Braised Pork (£12. 80), the favourite meal of Chairman Mao himself, a bowl piled high with long-stewed belly pork, sweet, salty and glazed in spices. One complaint – it didn’t arrive in the dish shaped like a tiger as seen on the menu, plus I’d been looking forward to that. Otherwise, it was completely flawless.
Next, the particular dazzling whole crispy fish in fairly sweet and sour sauce (£20. 80), a true show-stopper and, per the menu, the particular favourite meal of the poet Qu Yaun (it’s like eating through the greatest hits of an entire country’s cuisine).
A huge sea bass had been carved into impossibly ornate pieces and then fried, each puffed out like a koosh ball. The skill involved in preparing this is bewildering, the crisp seafood served in a lake associated with proper nice and sour sauce. Don’t neglect the head and tail, there are jewels to be found in there.
For the slightly more adventurous, the particular pigs trotters (£10. 80) in ‘hot and spice sauce’ were sticky plus fantastic, to be picked up in the fingers and gnawed on. A plate of lamb ribs from the much neglected breast (£11. 80) had been crisp, caked with dry spices plus fought over, chopsticks in dawn style. A generous plate of pork and seafood dumplings (£8 with regard to 12) were polished off with unseemly speed.
The particular weak dish appeared to be the golden soup with mutton (£12. 80). It arrived with other things, was tried and then passed over for the more diverting belly pig and steak. But once everything else was gone, also it got a bit of attention of its own, it had been easily on a par. The soup will be calm plus warming, but heavily spiced with chilli, the mutton sliced thinly into ribbons, with noodles and lotus roots to become discovered at the bottom of the bowl.
There are more wild things to try here. Cold tripe with chilli, soups along with braised lamb chops and goji berries, lily bulbs with king prawn balls, oxtail, the seafood meal called Northern Style Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, the particular favoured dish of Emperor Yuan Shikai. It’s a menu that will demands to be explored. I cannot wait to go back and do so.
Peace Garden, 57 Presentation area St W, Manchester M15 6PQ
Get the latest What’s On news – from food and drink to music plus nightlife : straight to your inbox with our daily newsletter .