China travel and vacations info – Peking roast duck

This article is about the Peking roast duck and you can find some useful information in it if you are planning your China vacations now.

The history of the Peking roast duck can be traced back to as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) when it was listed among the imperial dishes in the Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages, written in 1330 by Hu Sihui, an inspector of the imperial kitchen. Details regarding the cooking process were also described in this early cookbook.

In the early 15th century, when the Ming Dynasty capital was shifted from Nanjing to Beijing, roast duck remained one of the famous dishes on imperial court menus. According to the local history, the earliest roast duck restaurant in Beijing was the old Bianyifang Restaurant, which opened during the Jiajing reign (1522-1566). ( info for your China travel and vacations ) Distinct from the method in which the duck is hung from a hook in the ceiling of the oven and roasted over and roasted over burning wood, the Old Bianyifang Restaurant roasted its ducks with radiant heat. The walls of the oven were first heated with sorghum stalks whereupon the duck was placed inside and cooked by the heat given off by the walls. A duck roasted in this manner is crisp to the touch and golden brown in appearance; its flesh is both tender and tasty.

There are literally dozens of restaurants that serve roast duck, but perhaps the best known are Quanjude and Bianyifang. Each of the two has a different method of preparation, but each produces a delicious result. Quanjude roasts their ducks over burning wood while Bianyifang roasts its ducks using radiant heat from the oven walls.

(1). Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant ( Since 1864 ) :

Nowadays, if you talk about the Peking roast duck, everyone will mention the Quanjude roast duck. It is like the representative of the Peking roast duck. Quanjude has several stores in Beijing and the most famous one is the Qianmen (Qian gate) Quanjude. The Qianmen Quanjude is not only a restaurant to eat roast ducks, but also a place of tourist attraction now. The furnitures here are very “Traditional Chinese” and you can feel the charm of the Chinese culture here. There are 30 VIP rooms and 1 president room in this restaurant. ( info for your China tours and vacations ) The president room is the place where the Chinese leaders accommodate the foreign leaders. Many famous people have been here. One interesting thing I found is that you can write some Chinese charaters in the body of the duck with a Chinese writing brush before it is roasted. These charaters will then appear in your finished roast duck. Pretty funny! 🙂 There is an old shop in this Quanjude restaurant and you can find the look of the Quanjuede in 1930 there. Lots of people think this is the best place for the travellers to find the “Old Beijing feeling”. You can even find the map of the old Beijing Hutongs here. The roast ducks are very delicious in Quanjude for sure, but what attracts so many people here is the history and traditional Chinese culture of this old restaurant. Here is the address: 32 Qianmendajie Street, Beijing. Tel: 010 – 67011379.( Cost is about 110 rmb for one person ) To get here, you can take the Line 1 subway to the “Qianmen” station.

(2). Bianyifang ( Since 1416) :
The history of Bianyifang is even longer than Quanjude ( more useful China vacations info at Travel2ChinaInfo Dot COM ) . The Chinese characters for Bianyifang has two meanings: one is “cheap restaurant” and the other is “convinient restaurant”. At first, I thought the name means cheap. 🙂 Lots of people made the same mistake. Actually the “Bianyi” here means “convinient”, not “cheap”. The cost of Bianyifang restaurant is about 70 – 80 rmb for one person. Address: 87 Tiantanlu Street, Chongwen District, Beijing. Tel: 010 – 67014281.


Author: Shane Lee.