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China King 3-Course Peking Duck Report 12/5/12

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I should preface that I've only had the full Peking Duck treatment twice before in my life: once at the now defunct Tse Yang in New York about four years ago, and once in Beijing two years ago at a place that specialized in it. Therefore I don't have a ton of comparisons, but have a vague context.

The restaurant, which is not listed on google maps, is on Beach street right next to Taiwan Cafe. The day before I called around noon to reserve the 3-course Peking Duck for $38 as they require 24 hours advance notice. The traffic was horrible that night (as was parking) and although I was very late for my reservation, they were very gracious and held the duck without a real loss of quality. I will say that the family who runs China King are super friendly and really wanted us to enjoy the feast. They kept looking at us throughout the meal (even the chefs were peeking out from the kitchen) but they all genuinely seemed to want to make sure that we enjoyed it and were having a good time.

Course one came out and the first thing I noticed were the housemade pancakes. These things will ruin you for all other commercial version in the future. Twice as thick as normal ones, these had a nice chew and were slightly blistered in parts from the hot wok. A generous number (12) were provided along with sliced scallions and hoisin sauce. The duck was presented on a large plate cut into squares (along with two legs) and the first thing I noticed upon biting into a piece was the subtle, clean flavor or the marinade. Not too salty, with a distinct orange sweetness, but nothing overpowering, the flavor of the duck itself was able to shine through and didn't have to compete. The skin had a very thin layer of meat underneath, so not the shattering into a million pieces crispness of what I had in Beijing, but more of a the mouthfeel of medium well bacon. Crunchy on top, but with a melting fat underneath. Honestly, I could just have this for my feast.

We asked for the housemade noodles to be added to course two and the stir fry came out piping hot to the table. The noodles were thick, round, and perfectly cooked with a nice chewy bite to them. The pieces of duck in the stir fry were tender and abundant and once again the flavor of the duck came through. The stir fry was well seasoned and flavorful but not oily.

By the time the third course soup came out we were all hitting the wall. It was hard not to after the first and second courses. Once again though, what surprised me was how distinct and clear the flavors were. It was a delicious soup with a calming but very well flavored stock with thin noodles and some green veggies. It was a soothing finish for the meal.

For $38 for the duck and a couple more to add the noodles, four people left stuffed along with leftovers (mostly the soup). If you haven't made it down to China King yet, I highly recommend. It's an insane deal for a really delicious feast with friendly hosts.

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  1. Terrific report, Klunco. Three of us had the same meal a couple of months ago, along with an order of their hearty pan-fried dumplings. What an awesome meal, and a terrific bargain. Doris (I'm pretty sure that's her name) was as gracious and informative as could be. I look forward to going back, and waddling out with leftovers.

    1. thx much klunco; we'll have to try this; sounds wonderful!

      1. Sounds like a great deal. How many people do you think this could feed?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          I'll be interested in Klunco's reply, Bob, but I'd say it feeds four generously if you order an app. We had some leftovers with three stuffed big eaters an order of fried dumplings.

          I'd absolutely recommend ordering the noodles with the second course. They are outstanding.

          1. re: bear

            so i did this a couple months ago, alas, did *not* add the noodles to the dish, but we actually split 2 ducks for four people... and had room to walk over to jm curley after for drinks and a concrete. that said, we are all young, with large appetites. i would say 3 people for 1 duck and noodles is right, or 4 people with 1 duck, noodles, and something else (as bear described above).

          2. re: Bob Dobalina

            Nice writeup.

            We usually figure 1 duck for 3-4 people with another dish or 3. Everybody leaves full and there's some leftovers.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I forgot to mention we also had an order of scallion pancakes to start. Appetites vary, and if you looked at me and my SO and even our DCs, you probably wouldn't peg us as 'hounds. I'm probably up the alley of the food critic from Ratatouille (Francois Simon?).

              That said, I think you should be able to count on feeding four regular people with the three courses if you add the noodles. If you are real eaters though, you can always add other dishes at anytime throughout the meal. Part of it isn't just the quantity, but the richness of the first course (duck skin) that hits you in the middle of the second course.

              1. re: Klunco

                Awesome - thanks for the feedback everyone.

            2. I just hosted a dinner for 14 duck eaters. We ordered 3 ducks, plus 4 orders of scallion pancakes 4 orders of fried dumplings, 2 pea pod stems, 1 stir fried string beans and 1 vegetable rice cakes (there was a vegetarian at the table). I did add noodles to the second course and this was more then plenty for the table of 15. We had a lot of leftovers. With a generous tip, it was about $20 a head.

              1. I've enjoyed the Peking Duck at China King, but realized that I don't need 3 courses of Peking Duck. Personally, I would get less duck than necessary to fill the number of people and supplement with other dishes. That being said, I'm not sure what other dishes at China King people would say are spectacular. Really great people there and will go back when I feel like I know which dishes to order that wouldn't leave me thinking I am filled to the brim with Duck.

                1. Love this rendition, had it again recently. If I could double the first course, I would. I'm not exactly a dainty eater, but 3-4 people per duck -- with noodles in the second course highly recommended -- gives you a shot at finishing everything without more dishes.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    Our "standard" duck dinner for 4 is Scallion Pancakes and Peking Ravioli to start and one duck. We get the second course without the Noodles but throw in an order of Shanghai Chow Mein. We usually take a doggy bag but its not as full as it probably should be.

                  2. Sounds awesome, thank you for posting. If only it did not require a 24 hour reservation, I'd be heading over this minute.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                      I've been able to call in the morning of the same day with success. Never tried last minute.

                    2. It's a really rough-and-ready version, a homey and satisfying meal with lots of grease, salt and MSG. The duck itself is like a hybrid between peking duck and a hanging HK style roasted duck- the fat isn't entirely rendered so you get a lot of oil in your taco, if you like that.

                      1. Thank you for this awesome review - we took out a Peking Duck, scallion pancakes, and potstickers tonight (Chinatown was teaming with people).

                        Owner, Doris, was as described, very nice.

                        Scallion pancakes were outstanding and potstickers were top notch.

                        Peking duck was great - I agree, I'd be happy with the first course only.

                        Definitely one of the top dining experiences in Chinatown...

                        1. https://www.youtube.com/embed/miBKPwV...