Of all the places I've been to recently (downtown), only Peter's Chung Kin on College serves authentic Peking duck. Namely
- there's a half hour wait for the duck. If there isn't, it means the duck is deep fried, not roasted
- they serve only paper thin slices of the skin, as it should be. The meat goes into the second course, a stir fry
- the pancake wrappers were the right type, thin ones like that used for mu-shu dishes. I've read that the small bun-like "lotus leaf cakes" are more authentic, but I've always had the thin ones when growing up in Hong Kong
- the skin is served on a bed of shrimp crackers. This is supposedly to draw away some fat from the skin. This was very popular in late 80s/early 90s but nobody else does it now. To me it seems to say they are "old school".
The rest of the menu is not too exciting, and the restaurent shows its age (15+ years?) so I don't know if that would be a problem with your guests.
Go to Chung King Garden Restaurant @ Market Village (Kennedy & Steeles). The ducks they serve are of the biggest kinds I've seen amongst other restaurants i.e. more skin slices. The price is right too (about $35 for a 2-course Peking duck - sliced crispy skins with wrappers + pan-fried duck meat & iceberg lettuce OR duck soup (which is very light and tasty)).
Agree with teep that you better order this first thing once you sit down cuz it'll take 1/2 hour or so to prepare.
IMHO, the 8-person set dinner is the best deal in town - 8-9 dishes (including the 2-course duck, lobster, fish etc.) for under $200 and they give you enough food to feed 10. Call to ask.
Chung King Garden Restaurant
4394 Steeles Ave E Box 57, Markham, ON
We went to Chung King Garden as pickymama and agree it is among the best. The duck was dark, large and crisp. The skin slices for the first course were crispy and the fat, well rendered (good duck shouldn't be really fatty - though i suppose duck is always fatty...) The restaurant slices the breast meat with the breast skin so you get meaty pieces. The wrap is thin and big like a saucer, not the whiter and smaller puffier kinds you sometimes encounter. I found the hoisin watered down.
The second course had well trimmed iceberg lettuce and the leg meat and breast tenders stirfried until crispy. We only ordered the 2-course peking duck ($32) so did not try the duck soup.
Many other tables had the peking duck as well. It was very busy for a Monday night at around 7:30-8. Another table had a very good looking sweet and sour fish and later I heard another table recommending it so I'd like to try that next time.
On a side note, the other dishes we ordered were not as good as the duck. The crab and corn soup had frozen vegetables and was rather bland. The stir fried seafood noodles were kind of "home cooking" and boring, not to mention somewhat heavy, though the quality of seafood used in the dishes was surprising. The shrimps were the largest I've seen in a long time and the scallops were also of a decent size. The shrimp and chicken with cashews was nice. The szechuan shredded beef was tasty but I should have been 3 times spicier. At the end we were served a lotus nut and barley dessert soup that was really well done. I didn't do any of the ordering so I think I would have had a better meal had I chosen the XLB and lamb skewers.
I had a great Peking duck recently at Asian Legend, the one at the Commerce Gate Plaza on Hwy 7 just west of Leslie. I must say I enjoyed this duck much more than the ones I've had recently at Ambassador and Peaktop. It was a very meaty duck, with good fat/skin separation. I know Asian Legend is kind of maligned on this board, but c'mon, Peking Duck and XLB in the same meal made for a pretty good experience.
Believe it or not, one of the best places for Peking duck is Peking Man Restaurant at Leslie and Sheppard. We went there not too long ago after many years and we, all four of us, were very surprised by their dishes, especially the peking duck. Give it a try! 1110 Sheppard Ave E
North York, ON , M2K2W2
I'll second that E-Pan recommendation. It didn't blow me away but there was really nothing to complain about, and the price was right too. One thing I particularly appreciated was the second course of the lettuce duck wraps, which had a nice consistent but interesting texture to it.
The one other place I've been to for Peking duck recently is Happy Seven on Spadina. Yuck. The duck was dried out and probably wasn't fresh, and the second course was something else... this duck stew of some sort where the meat was pretty indistinguishable from the bones with all the sauce they doused it with. It's cheaper but I would really stick with E-Pan.