Header image courtesy of Natalia Lisovskaya (via Shutterstock)
At the mention of roast duck, most Hongkongers’ first thought might be siu mei (燒味; Cantonese-style barbecue), but when a finer affair is in order, we invariably turn to its fancier cousin from the North—Peking duck. Hailing from the Imperial courts of Nanjing—the former capital of China—Peking duck has been enjoyed by Chinese nobility for centuries. More than just roasted poultry, this iconic dish represents a visual and gastronomic experience.
Traditionally prepared tableside, the prized skin of the duck is immaculately carved into thin, crispy pieces, then served wrapped in pancakes with scallion, hoisin sauce, and cucumbers, while the rest of the bird is saved and made into following courses. Proper execution of this dish is an art form, so quality ingredients and cooking methods make all the difference. Read on for our round-up of where to find the best Peking duck in Hong Kong.
Boasting eight locations across the city, Peking Garden has become a household name in the local Chinese fine-dining scene, and for that, they have to their signature Peking duck (starting from $240) to thank. You’ll see the lusciously glazed bird appear on nearly every dinner table here—and with good reason.
The beauty of the dish lies in its simplicity: the duck is barbecued to peak golden crispiness and carved right before your eyes into bite-sized, perfectly portioned slices of skin and meat. Served with a warm, slightly doughy pancake and the traditional accompaniments of cucumber, hoisin sauce, and scallion, the ensemble is decidedly traditional without modern bells or whistles, but hits the mark on every level.
You know a restaurant takes their Peking duck very seriously when it takes over two days to prepare the dish from start to finish. Frequently lauded for its masterful integration of contemporary international cooking techniques with time-honoured Chinese recipes, Mott 32’s take on the classic Beijing dish is no exception.
The 42-day Peking duck ($750) is a cut above the rest with its robust flavour and honeycomb-like skin, a result of being marinated in a special sauce for 48 hours and carefully smoked over applewood chips in a brick oven.
Never shy of adding their own twists, the accompanying hoisin sauce is given a new layer of complexity with a dollop of peanut sauce swirled in. Coupled with thinly sliced vegetables, brown palm sugar, and a sauce of freshly grated garlic, you will be swooning from the first bite. Pre-order at least a day in advance to allow the kitchen enough time to prepare—it’s well worth the effort to taste this dish when visiting Mott 32.
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4A Des Voeux Road, Central | (+852) 2898 3788
Specialising in all things duck, Empire City Roasted Duck earns its keep by offering stellar Northern Chinese cuisine at fairly reasonable prices. Their showpiece Peking duck (starting from $298) features delicate slices of crisp, roasted duck, enlivened with the subtly sweet and smokey aroma of lychee wood and presented atop a bed of fresh lettuce. Using first-class ducks that are carefully selected and imported from Beijing, the duck is consistently flavourful and beautifully matched with a vibrant medley of toppings and sauces, including purple radish, honey melon, cucumber, green onion, barbecue sauce, and granulated sugar.
Empire City Roasted Duck, Shop 221, Level 2, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2628 0662
A venerated place of pilgrimage for all Peking duck connoisseurs, the sumptuous Peking duck (starting from $398) at Sha Tin 18 is truly a feast fit for royalty. The duck is sliced three different ways—separated into skin, breast meat, and leg meat—so whether you like your Peking duck with a higher proportion of skin, or on the leaner side with more meat, everyone’s cravings are sorted. Pick your preferred duck slice, and enjoy it bundled up in a freshly steamed pancake, along with cucumber, leeks, soya bean paste, and garlic paste.
Don’t sleep on the optional second and third course, either, constituting of wok-fried minced duck with lettuce cups (starting from $128) and a hearty Peking duck bone soup ($62 per person)!
Sha Tin 18, 4/F, Hyatt Regency, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 3723 7932
Sift through Forbidden Duck’s lip-smacking range of dim sum and contemporary Cantonese stir-fries and braises, but don’t get so distracted that you leave without trying their titular speciality—Peking duck (starting from $288). Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Alvin Leung, you can certainly expect a few tricks up his sleeves.
Their signature roasted duck goes through a meticulous process of dry-ageing and slow-roasting to develop maximum flavour and texture. It is then briefly blasted with high heat to crisp up the skin. Finally, it is served with sesame dressing, as well the usual accoutrements of cucumber, leek, hoisin sauce, and Mandarin pancakes. Best of all, the paper-thin pancakes are kept warm over a burning candle, so there is no need to race through finishing them all before they get cold.
Forbidden Duck, Shop 1001B, 10/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2882 8600
If there’s one place to splurge on Peking duck, it’s Xin Rong Ji in Wan Chai, one of the city’s most prestigious Chinese banquet dining destinations. While seafood is the main fare at this Michlin-starred Taizhou restaurant, you would be remiss to overlook their show-stopping Peking duck ($798).
Showcasing a glass-like, amber exterior, the skin of the duck is as crisp and crackly as it looks, while the meat melts in your mouth without being overly fatty. Versatility and thoughtfulness are notably expressed in the impressive selection of sides and condiments that go with the duck pancake, including a game-changing hawthorn jelly, which serves as a bright and tangy counterpoint to the meaty richness of the duck.
Xin Rong Ji, G/F & 1/F, China Overseas Building, 138 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 3462 3516
If value-for-money is what you are after, then you cannot go wrong with Zither Garden. An entire roasted duck can be had for $368, while a half portion will only set you back $185. With that being said, the modest prices are little indication of the superlative quality and care that has been injected into the food.
Two versions of roasted Peking duck are offered—traditional and Vinasse-roasted, the latter of which boasts a pleasant alcoholic kick that is uncommon in most renderings of this classic dish. The first few pieces of crisp skin from the chest are deemed the crown jewels of the duck, and are to be eaten with a honey plum sauce and sugar, while the remaining slices are paired with cucumbers, melon, green onions, and barbecue sauce.
Zither Garden, 19/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai | (+852) 2351 0528