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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chung King Garden :: Peking Duck Yum

Located behind Pacific Mall, Chung King Garden serves an excellent full-course Peking Duck in record time. Every dish was fantastic, and the duck was crispy, non-fatty, and flavourful. It was the perfect dinner before a long weekend trip to Alongquin for some serious paddling, steak grilling, and s'moring.

Chung King Garden
Verdict: Go! Crispy, non-fatty Peking duck with great quality, flavour, and presentation. Tasty house specials.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$40 + tax & tip (cash only!)
Location: 4394 Steeles Avenue East, Markham (Market Village Shopping Centre)

We arrived pretty late - last-minute grocery and camping-supply shopping stirred our appetites and we were glad to see that the restaurant was not too busy. Although, who goes for for Peking Duck at 10pm on a Friday? Oh yah. We do.

Not having had this dish since a 2008 trip to Beijing, I was pretty excited. For those who have never tried, the glazed ducks are hung and slowly roasted, which you may have seen in some Chinese restaurants. It's quite a site when you see rows upon rows of ducks hanging in a window front. 

My friend expertly took care of the ordering - not that the ability to speak Mandarin is a pre-requisite here and it was pretty straightforward. We mainly wanted one thing: Peking Duck. 

I'm actually a bit picky about duck. I either find it tasty and game-y, or horribly fatty and gross. Never in between. However, this was quite possibly the best duck that I've ever had...including the Peking Duck I tried on a quick visit to Beijing, I kid you not (although I will admit that I only tried it once when I was there at a random restaurant).

A fully roasted, drool-worthy duck is presented to us and quickly whisked away before I have time to pull out my camera. Trust me when I say that it was huge, shiny, and I could've sunk my sharp little teeth in it right there and then.

Too shy to stop the waiter to take a photo and too hungry to delay the cooking, the duck went back to the kitchen without any was about to return as a  three-course meal, after all! Knowing that it takes 20-30 minutes for the food to be prepared, we ordered one of their House Specials to tide us over as well as some white rice.

Szechwan Shredded Beef ($10.95)
Crispy yet tender, crunchy but not oily, this was the perfect dish to ease our hunger pangs while we waited for the duck. I was really pleased with the beef; it had great flavour from the chili and it wasn't drenched in sauce so it stayed crispy. Shredded carrots and green onions added to the flavour, and it was great with rice.

Authentic Beijing Roast Duck (3 Courses) ($37.95)
Crispy Duck Skin & Breast
Duck Stir Fry
Duck Soup

Course 1: Crispy, Roasted Skin
I could hardly contain my excitement when the first course arrived. The dark skin was shining and crispy-looking, with duck breast peeking out from underneath.The flavour was fantastic. There was also little to no fat hiding between the skin and breast, which but they've rendered it so well that it was still moist.

With it came steamed dry crepes to wrap the roasted duck, vegetables, tian mian jian (a savoury-sweet bean sauce), and crispy shrimp crackers. The crepes are nice and thin, but thick enough to wrap everything without breaking before shoving it into your mouth. Eat the crackers while they're super-fresh and hot - like pork rinds, they get soft and blah over time.

Step 1
Drizzle some tian mian jian sauce
Step 2
Now some scallions & cucumber
Step 3
Crispy shrimp crackers and duck
Step 4
Stare & drool...cause you can't eat your screen ;)

Course 2: Minced, Fried Duck in Lettuce Wraps
Yum yum yum. It's hard to see, but there were also bits of crispy white noodles hidden among the pile of stir fried duck, vegetables, and saucey goodness. The sweet bean sauce is a great base for stir fries, I think I'll pick up a bottle of tian mian jian on my next Chinatown run.

I enjoyed tofu, water chestnuts, pepper, carrots, onion, and whatever other vegetables were in the mix. There was just enough to give it flavour, and they clearly weren't just "fillers" for the dish to look bigger.

We eagerly grabbed spoonfuls and scooped the duck into pieces iceberg lettuce. I also enjoyed it with white rice when we ran out of lettuce. Win.

Course 3: Duck Soup
Last to arrive was a soup made from the remaining skin, meat, and bones. The broth was surprisingly light and tasty - not at all oily! A friend said this was her favourite course for this very reason. I really wonder what they put in this broth to make it so flavourful in such a short amount of time. Tofu, duck, and nappa cabbage was plentiful and we cleaned this bowl up without a problem. I can only imagine how wonderful this soup must be on a cold, winter night.

Just to tease you one last time: Crispy, crispy duck skin! Look at that crispy shine!
I want to return to try their Honey Garlic Spare Ribs, Sweet & Sour Fish, Braised Broccoli with House Sauce, and Orange Chicken. And more Peking Duck of course. The service was quick and efficient - no complaints there. I didn't deal with them directly, and I only observed other Chinese customers in the restaurants so I can't really comment on their interaction but I saw no problems whatsoever. The space seems great for bringing groups, as there were large lacquered tables equipped with lazy Susans that could easily fit a group of 10 people. While it wasn't busy when I went, I heard that there are often long waits during dinner time and they also do not take credit card.

Chung King Garden
Verdict: Go! Crispy, non-fatty Peking duck with great quality, flavour, and presentation. Tasty crispy beef. Win.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$40 + tax & tip
(cash only!)
Location: 4394 Steeles Avenue East, Markham (Market Village Shopping Centre)

Chung King Garden on Urbanspoon


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