In Beijing, it seems as if there’s a roast duck restaurant on every corner. One of them is Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant. The casual restaurant, busy with both locals and expats, is popular for their affordable and delicious Peking duck.
Peking duck is a specialty in Beijing. If you’re a foodie headed here, you should add it to your food bucket list. With that said, eating roast duck is often a special occasion, meaning expensive and fancy. When I’m in the mood for duck, I want neither expensive nor fancy.
This is why I choose to visit Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant over other duck restaurants in Beijing. The duck is cheap, delicious, and for some reason, most tourists have yet to discover it. Maybe the location, a 15 minute walk from the nearest metro station, keeps most of them away. Little do they know they are missing out on quite possibly the best Peking duck in Beijing.
When you reach the restaurant, just look for the ducks hanging in the window along with the outdoor deck decorated with red lanterns. On my visit in the winter, the outdoor deck was going through some upgrades, getting it ready for the warmer summer months. In the summer, these are the most popular seats in the house.
When I walked inside, what hit me first was the aroma of barbecued meats and the smell of fire.
The open dining room was clean and plain. The design was simple with white walls and wooden tables paired with rustic chairs. On the back wall, a single television was hanging.
I happened to arrive on a late Friday afternoon to avoid the diner rush. With only a few tables, a reservation might be a smart move, especially on weekends
After placing my order, I was told it would be a 30 minute wait to prepare the duck. This was fine with me. It takes time to roast a duck until golden brown and crispy. The wait was well worth it, especially after ordering a few cheap, dark draft beers.
Beijing Roast Duck
The specialty was none other than the Peking duck, or Beijing Roast Duck (138 RMB or about $20).
In the past, listed on the menu was a half order of the duck for 79 RMB. This option has since been removed. The only option was a whole duck, perfect for sharing between two people. Since I was alone, I knew I would be eating a whole duck to myself.
First time ordering Peking duck in Beijing? If so, you’re in for a real treat. At most duck restaurants in Beijing, the duck is presented and prepared table side. At Jingzun, it was no different.
The chef brought out the roast duck on a tray and used his knife to butcher each and every piece of meat off the bird. Each slice was placed beautifully on the plate, as if every piece had its place. It was one of my most memorable experiences in Beijing.
I was lucky enough to have a newbie butchering my beautiful roast duck, with the watchful eye of his mentor. While I was a little nervous at first, in the end I was impressed with how well he did.
The skin of the duck, oh that skin. A thing of beauty from being fire roasted inside a brick oven. The crispy brown crust glistening under the bright lights of the restaurant. One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
The skin tasted as great as it looked. The skin was crispy yet still gelatinous with each bite melting in my mouth. The richness and flavors of the skin were incredible, sometimes overpowering. It’s something everyone needs to try for themselves.
The dark meat of the duck, hidden under the skin, was prepared and sliced to perfection. Each piece cut from a different part of the bird. Being fire-roasted, the meat had a nice hint of smoke but with uneven cooking, some pieces were slightly overcooked while other pieces were tender and juicy. The dark meat and crispy skin were a great mixture of textures and flavors in my mouth.
Served with the duck was an assortment of sides including sliced cucumbers, sliced scallions, pancakes, a sweet bean sauce, and sugar. All of these were included in the price of the duck.
As you might have figured out already, you take the duck meat and skin, place it in the pancake, add whichever toppings you choose, and eat it like a taco. The pancake was quite thin and light, almost translucent, like a Chinese crepe.
Each ingredient seemed to be thoughtfully included to best compliment the flavors and richness of the roast duck. The sliced cucumbers and sliced scallions added a fresh and crispy texture to each bite. The sweetness of the thick and smoky bean sauce cut through the richness of the duck skin. If you like more sweetness, just sprinkle on some sugar.
I managed to finish the entire delicious duck on my own, which I’m not sure I should be proud of or ashamed. I didn’t realize just how much food was in front of me. Roast duck will always be my favorite meal in Beijing.
Service was friendly and prompt, especially when compared to other restaurants I visited in Beijing.
I enjoyed how server kept the cold beers coming while I was waiting patiently for the duck.
The best part about Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant was watching the chefs slice each duck fresh to order at each table. I could watch that all day.
Beijing has an almost endless list of duck restaurants. At the top of the list, I place Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant. You can’t beat the quality of food, affordability, level of service, and laid-back atmosphere.
Without considering price, Jingzun Peking Duck Restaurant serves one of the best roast Peking duck in Beijing. I would gladly pay double for the quality of the duck. It was that good.
I can’t get over how crispy and rich the skin of the duck was. The meat, the sides, the Chinese style pancake. It was culinary perfection and I’m hungry thinking about it. Next time I return to Beijing, I know where my first stop will be.