Whilst the iconic and super-expensive Beijing based ‘ QJD Peking Duck Restaurant ‘ was planning and pumping in an obscene 10 Million RMB decoration cost to open up their first Canadian branch inside a Markham Hotel. One of their former chef has pre-empted their effort by establishing a foot hold in Scarborough with the opening of a humble restaurant specializing in Peking duck and other duck based dishes, a few months earlier. Appropriately named ‘ Peking Duck Kitchen ‘, it was first mentioned to me by ex-chowhounder ‘Royaljelly’. After months of procrastination as to whether I should take the long trek down from Richmond Hill to give this ‘supposedly best and most authentic‘ duck specialist a try. I finally picked a day, with one of this year’s highest gasoline price, to drive down! With my vehicle burning $1.30+ gas, the duck better be good?!
Nestled in a nondescript strip plaza next to the railway bridge on Sheppard and Midland. This restaurant occupied the place once owned by Toronto best ‘ Won-Ton noodle’ joint – ‘Chicken & Noodles Restaurant ‘. Interior of the restaurant was cramped but cozy. A pseudo-‘open kitchen’ with a huge glass panel window displaying the huge oven and the chefs busy preparing the ‘ lacquered color, pumped up ‘ bird was strategically located for most patrons to see.
Our party of 7 ordered TWO ducks in order to satisfy our craving. In addition to the traditional pancake crepe and lettuce wraps, we also requested the carcass to be prepared with a rare option - fried with seasoned salt and pepper. Crispy KFC cousin kicked up a notch?! As well, to augment ‘the star’, we tried a whole slew of other rare duck based and traditional Northern style dishes. 'Stirred fry trio of Duck meat, liver and webs in wine sauce', 'Stirred fry sliced leg of pork with chili pepper and leeks', 'Fried king prawns with salted duck egg yolks', 'Stirred fry pot-pourri of egg plant, roasted potatoes and green pepper in brown sauce', Scallion pan cakes, hand-pulled noodles etc...…to name a few.
Although the duck was excellent, with ultra crispy and fat-less skin, accompanied by super thin and delicate pancake wrappers and home-made Hoi-sin sauce. To our surprise, the stars of the meal were not the duck but literally ALL of the other ‘ supporting cast ‘ dishes! So well executed with incredibly complex taste profile and aromatic smoky wok-hay infusion….in my book, they were all winners! The aforementioned four dishes were all examples of killer stand-out creations!! What a nice revelation to see a Northern Style Chinese restaurant in Toronto outshining some of their supposedly superior Cantonese brethren! This is definitely a candidate worthy of multiple repeat visits!
Unfortunately, the only downside of the evening was the sub-par attention provided by the really over-stressed staffs. With only 2 to 3 servers looking after a full house of 9-10 round tables. The front of house was obviously way, way, way under-staff!! For a while, even the chef/owner has to come out from the kitchen to give a lending hand!