Home of duck the authentic Peking way

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 June, 2004, 12:00am

If you want to sample authentic Beijing cuisine, you have to start with the city's signature dish - Peking duck.

In my search for the real deal, I spoke to taxi drivers, hotel employees and local friends. Everyone had a list of favourite restaurants but one name kept coming up: the Beijing Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant (tel: 010-6525 3310).

To confirm that my somewhat unscientific research was not flawed, readers in a survey published in the June issue of That's Beijing magazine voted the restaurant the city's best for local cuisine. I decided to give it a try.

Located in the stylish Wangfujing shopping district, the restaurant, established in 1864, claims to be the place where Peking duck was born.

The massive eatery - which features open kitchens so you can watch the ducks being roasted - is modern, well-lit, clean and beautifully decorated. Nonetheless, it struck me as your typical tourist trap. The staff annoyingly refused to speak to me in Chinese and aggressively tried to run up the bill, suggesting far more dishes than two people could comfortably consume.

I had been forewarned by an experienced guide that genuine Peking duck is oily and fatty.

'The Peking duck in Hong Kong is leaner and sweeter,' he said. 'Many people from Hong Kong think that Beijing-style Peking duck is too greasy - but that's the way we like it.'

My verdict? The duck was greasy and not as flavoursome as the duck I have sampled in Hong Kong. But my dining companion - a native of the city - thought it was the best she'd ever tasted.

Dinner for two - including a 14-yuan bottle of Yanjing beer - came to 222 yuan.

The restaurant is on Shuaifuyuan Lane, between Donganmen Street and East Chang'an Avenue.