Beijing Duck &
Top Five Beijing Duck Houses

All About Beijing Duck

Slicing Beijing duck

We are going to talk about the best Beijing duck houses in this chapter.

Beijing duck is an art. Specialized chefs have developed the idea that the skin of the duck should be so soft and crispy that it melts in the mouth.

Price range among Beijing duck houses varies. Some sells at ¥38 each while some goes beyond ¥100.

Beijing ducks are roasted to order. Therefore if a restaurant refuses to sell you half, please do not think that they are mean or providing poor service. The eating of Beijing duck is an art. One of the important factors is timing. If the restaurant pre-do a number of them and wait for orders, quality cannot be guaranteed.

How to Eat a Beijing Duck

The well-done Beijing duck will be presented to you as a whole before serving. The chef will then slice it in front of you or somewhere nearby. Professional chefs would be able to slice a duck into 100 thin small sheets with equal portion of skin and meat.

The eating of Beijing duck is actually very scientific. The duck is generally served with garlic, spring onion and cucumber. These things not only provide a good balance of ph, vitamin C and high fiber, they also reduce cholesterol and are good for digestion.

You will roll those garnishes together with sweet sauce (made of fermented flour) in a freshly steamed pancake to make up an extremely yummy mouthful.

Chinese do not waste things, especially food. Beijing duck houses usually serves various dishes made of duck kidneys, hearts, livers, webs and wings. Even duck tongues can be made into a tasteful dish. Skeleton of the sliced duck normally goes into a soup. Professional chefs can make an all-duck banquet making use of all parts of a duck.

View my duck feast as part of my Beijing food tour

Beijing Duck Recipe

Origination of Beijing Duck Recipe

Bian Yi Fang and Quanjude are the longest-history Beijing duck houses in Beijing.

Bian Yi Fang had been selling roast duck since 1855. They used oven heat instead of roasting on actual fire.

Mr. Yang Quan Yan found Quanjude in 1864. He was a hands-on duck worker. He worked on ducks from sloughing, cleaning to marinating. He knew ducks inside out.

At some stage, he had some savings and planned to run a duck house. At that time he came to know Chef Sun from the imperial kitchen of Qing Dynasty. The wonderful cuisine of Beijing duck was actually a combination of the imperial cooking skills of Chef Sun and the unique duck treating method of Mr. Yang.

How to Roast a Beijing Duck?

The Beijing duck recipe here is just for your pleasure reading. Do not try to make a Beijing duck yourself. It requires professional cooking skills, facilities and is time consuming. Even if you are a professional chef, you wouldn’t have the required facilities at home. Therefore please only enjoy duck feasts at Beijing duck houses.

Duck Requirement

It is very selective. Force-feed ducks are used. Top class Beijing duck houses will only use those grow to 5.5 Chinese catties (around 2.5 kilograms) within 45 to 48 days. Those too old or too young, overweight or underweight ducks are not used.

Controlling of Oven Fire

Only fruit tree wood will be used. Jujube tree, peach or pear wood is used because these types of firewood emit little smoke and give steady and controllable flames with a faint and pleasant aroma.

Beijing Duck Recipe

Clean the duck, remove internal organs, pump air inside until skin and flesh are more or less separated and the whole body swollen like a balloon.

Cut open the duck at its chest and insert a tiny stick around 2 inches long to support the chest bone.

Hook at the neck and hang it. Paint a thin layer of maltose through the whole body. Leave the duck hanging for at least two hours to let it dry.

Before put into an oven, fill half of the duck with boiled water. Do not release water until the duck is cooked. This will allow the duck to be roasted outside but steamed inside.

Roast for 40 minutes until it is well cooked.

The well roasted duck will become brilliant and glossy as if painted. The skin is crispy while the meat is tender.

Top Five Beijing Duck Houses

If you ask which is the best Beijing duck house in Beijing, different people will give you different answers. Actually it is quite a personal taste of which one is the best. However, if you keep asking, you’ll find five names keep appearing on people’s favourite lists.

In a recent magazine poll, these five names also dominate the top positions. I have therefore taken some time to research on these top-five and write a report here. To avoid bias, I won’t tell you which is number one and which is number two.

I have also included their Chinese addresses. You can print this page and show to the taxi driver if necessary.

Note: The prices I quote are for indication only.

便宜坊烤鴨店 Bian Yi Fang Roast Duck Restaurant
电话:6712 0505 (telephone number for reservation)

Beijing duck price: ¥80

Bian Yi Fang was found in 1855. They are the pioneer in producing Beijing duck. The name of this Beijing duck house is quite mis-leading. ‘Bian Yi’ in Chinese means cheap. However ‘bian’ alone means convenient; ‘yi’ alone means pleasant. The owner reiterates that his shop is meant for ‘convenient and pleasant’; not cheap.

Bian Yi Fang’s Beijing duck recipe is different from most of the Beijing duck houses in Beijing. They use oven heat instead of actual fire. This method is meant for environmental as well as making the duck meat more tender and juicy.

利群烤鴨店 Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant
电话:6705 5578 (telephone number for reservation)

Beijing duck price: ¥80

This Beijing duck house is certainly foreigners’ favourite. You’ll find the place full of tourists and rarely find a domestic diner. Li Qun’s name keep appear on Discovery, National Geography, UA magazine and Time Asia. Hence numerous overseas visitors are attracted. Actually Li Qun never advertises, their promotion is by word of mouth.

Li Qun’s executive chef used to work for Quanjude. If you want to have an authentic Quanjude roast duck at a reduced rate, this is the place.

Li Qun’s is extremely difficult to find. It is hidden inside a hutong (small lane in Beijing). If you don’t know the place, you’ll find yourself lost in a maze. The hutong is so small that a taxi can’t take you there. You’ll have to walk for 15 minutes after a taxi ride. A better way is to hire a rickshaw after getting off the taxi. When you see two big red lanterns and chefs busy roasting ducks, that is the place.

Though Li Qun is difficult to find, people do make efforts to find it. It is always full plus a long waiting line. Please make sure to book a table, or you’ll have to wait. Plus the cooking time of 40 minutes for a Beijing duck, it is a test of patience.

Li Qun has nothing five-star. But it has a typical traditional old Beijing feel. It is situated in a siheyuan (traditional Beijing house structure). Diners just eat in the garden or various dining rooms.

鴨王烤鴨店 King of Duck Roast Duck Restaurant
地址:亞運村奧體西門中華民族園旁 / 朝陽區民族園路1號
电话:6204 9932 (telephone number for reservation)

Beijing duck price: ¥48

“New Generation Ruler of the Century-old Duck Empire” – this is the slogan of King of Duck. It is ambitious and aggressive. Indeed they are running six shops since the first one open in 1997.

They claim to do an old dish in a new style. You’ll find this to be a new-generation Beijing duck house. The Beijing duck they produce is almost out of fat.

They are famous for a three-course duck feast: sliced skin/meat, rest of meat is shredded and fried; skeleton went into a duck soup. Other dishes include chilly duck chin, pan fried duck heart and hot duck liver.

King of Duck also serves cuisines of other provinces.

全聚德烤鴨店 Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
电话:6511 2418 (telephone number for reservation)

Quanjude nowadays operates under franchise. It is important that you go to this original shop where foreign rulers must visit.

Beijing duck price: ¥168 / ¥70 per one-person dish

This is one of the oldest Beijing duck houses in Beijing. Found in 1864 by Mr. Yang Quan Yan. Quanjude is the most famous Beijing duck house for sure. Somehow there is an equal mark between Quanjude and Beijing duck.

My personal experience with Quanjude is not that impressive. However if money is not your concern, you might try and see if you are convinced. Someone told me if you want the best Beijing duck from Quanjude, you must book a private room and pay a 15% service charge.

Do drop me a note if you have experience to share with other Beijing duck fans.

大董烤鴨店 Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant
地址:北京市朝阳区团结湖北口3号楼 / (北京市東三環長虹橋東南側)
电话:6582 4012 (telephone number for reservation)

Beijing duck price: ¥98

Da Dong is nearby the embassy district in Beijing. This particular Beijing duck house seems to be loved by ambassadors. You would always find British and Japanese ambassador entertaining their guests here.

The executive chef of Da Dong has an MBA degree. He is the only person in the catering industry of China with such qualification. Da Dong has a booklet on each of their dining table to tell their guests different ways to eat Beijing duck.

Anna's Duck Tips

There are plenty of quality Beijing duck houses in Beijing. Don’t limit yourself to the top-five. Feel free to look for your own favourite. I would say any Beijing duck between ¥38 and 80 is a good deal. If you feel happy with the restaurant setting and environment, give it a try.

If by any chance you miss the Beijing duck in Beijing, don’t worry. In Hong Kong you can eat equally good Beijing duck. We have demand here. Hong Kong restaurant owners are willing to pay, Beijing duck top chefs are happy to work here. It is a good idea to try both and see which one you would consider better. I’ll talk about Hong Kong Beijing duck in my Hong Kong page.

Meanwhile, if you want to preview a duck feast in Hong Kong, here are the duck meals from my Hong Kong Food Blog.

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