Peking Duck is a dish that signifies a special treat or a special occasion. It is one of my favorites, and on my recent trip to Asia, I had the opportunity to enjoy it in Johor Bahru.
We ordered Peking Dish at the Lotus Garden Restaurant, a fine dining, halal, Chinese restaurant at the Zon Regency Hotel. The restaurant also offers great service and some seating have lovely views of the sea. We were there to celebrate the birthdays of two family members and to spend time together, so it was both a culinary treat and a special occasion.
It is said that the Peking Duck dates back to China’s imperial era. One of the essential aspects of Peking Duck is the skin. The skin must be thin, crispy, and glistening deep brown in color. An important step in the preparation process is to pump air into the duck to separate the skin from the fat. This enables the skin to take on its thin, crispy texture during roasting.
Ordering Peking Duck is like ordering crepe suzette at a restaurant. The drama of the preparation is part of the pleasure and ritual of the dish. The duck is presented to the diners at a side table or cart. This was done at the Lotus Garden. A member of the staff expertly carved the bird, while we looked on in anticipation.
The individual servings were also assembled at the cart. Each thin, white pancake was filled with slices of the skin and meat, stalks of spring onion and a sauce, which was like hoisin sauce. They were served with a small dish of extra dipping sauce. The combination of flavors and textures was quite exquisite.
I find it interesting that Peking Duck is served with the thin, white pancakes in Singapore and Malaysia, while in the United States, it is usually served with buns which, I’m told by a friend, is the way this dish is served in China. For me, it’s hands down for the thin pancakes.
As is the usual custom when one orders Peking Duck, the diner would be asked how would he or she like the rest of the bird to be served. One of the popular ways is to stir-fry the meat with noodles. But my uncle was keen to have the meat cooked in spicy black pepper sauce. We agreed to his adventurous suggestion, and we were not disappointed.
We also had several other dishes such as Sizzling Tofu and Vegetables and Braised Venison Ribs which we really enjoyed. We ended the meal with a perfectly done classic dessert of Chinese pancake with red bean filling.