Eating Peking Duck in Peking

From market stalls to chichi dining rooms, Beijing restaurants are all about Peking duck. Here's are two delicious examples of the specialty -- one at a high-end restaurant, the other as street food.

 Peking duck is carved and rolled in thin pancakes with sauce (here plum, sometimes hoisin) along with thinly sliced vegetables. The set-up at Duck de Chine is snazzier than most.

Peking duck is carved and rolled in thin pancakes with sauce (here plum, sometimes hoisin) along with thinly sliced vegetables. The set-up at Duck de Chine is snazzier than most.

As for the name, it's actually no shocker.  English speakers called China's capital Peking for 2-300 years, so naturally the name also grew to refer to the city's signature dish.

During my time in Beijing with an Adventures by Disney tour, I sampled the specialty prepared in the traditional way at a stylish restaurant called Duck de Chine. Then, exploring a market on my own, I tried a street-food version. Scroll down to see both.

 Duck De Chine's snazzy decor

Duck De Chine's snazzy decor

 The pretty table setting. A glass Lazy Susan in the table's center held not only the duck but several other dishes, which my group shared family-style.

The pretty table setting. A glass Lazy Susan in the table's center held not only the duck but several other dishes, which my group shared family-style.

A Duck de Chine chef carving Peking duck tableside in Beiing

Its said that every Peking duck should be cut in the same exact number of slices. I seem to recall 114 but can't confirm that.

Eating Peking Duck in Peking - Behind the Scenes at Duck de Chine

Duck de Chine keeps part of its kitchen open. Here's what I found when I ventured over to the chefs' station.

 Plucked ducks waiting to to cooked

Plucked ducks waiting to to cooked

 A Duck de Chine chef placing ducks in the fire, which help the pre-seasoned poultry get a lusciously thin and crispy skin

A Duck de Chine chef placing ducks in the fire, which help the pre-seasoned poultry get a lusciously thin and crispy skin

 It seems the chef lops off the heads before plating the whole ducks for dining room service.

It seems the chef lops off the heads before plating the whole ducks for dining room service.

Eating Peking Duck in Peking -- Making the Sandwich

This video is a mess, but it shows you a diner expertly placing the ingredients into the pancake and rolling it up.

Eating Peking Duck in Peking: The Street Food Version

Before our tour began, two of us ventured out to a pedestrian mall filled with food vendors. I can't tell you the name; I don't know it. A tour guide wrote the name or address in Chinese for me and I handed the paper to a taxi driver.

But, among the exotic treats was the welcome sight of a Peking duck stand. A man and woman worked in tandem carving, rolling and packing quintets of Peking duck. The flavors weren't as intense as at Duck de Chine, but they were quite good. If I could get this for lunch here in Orlando, I'd be a regular.

This is good food. If you've enjoyed Peking duck at restaurants stateside, I'd urge you to try it in as many places as possible in Peking ... er, Beijing.

Rona