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Melbourne Food Review: Peking Duck at Old Kingdom, Fitzroy

Behold the delicious eating invention that of the Peking duck. For those of you who think Peking duck is merely pancake-wrapped roast duck doused in hoisin sauce, err… well you’re probably right! But really, it isn’t supposed to be it. I suppose when one lives in Melbourne, one has to settle for a three-course Peking duck feast at Old Kingdom.

(a whole duck is presented to the table before the slicing and dicing action ensues)

My dad told me about his recent work trip to China where he had a ‘full on’ Peking duck experience where one started off with cold cuts of duck’s tongues and eleven courses later ended up with duck-flavoured ice cream. No kidding. Now why don’t they do that in Melbourne?

(spring onion and cucumber, traditional accompaniment)

So the good people of Melbourne food Twitter community organised by Anna gathered up for a duck fest – a good three-course of Peking duck eating. Old Kingdom is one of those very popular, old institution. Due to its regular media coverage, it is a well-known spot for Peking duck eating. Which is just as well, let me tell you, because their other dishes are pretty much not worth the hassle of squeezing yourself into their cramp we’d-all-die-if-there’s-a-fire dining room.

We started with a table full of accompaniments: hot Chinese-style Peking duck pancakes, cucumbers, spring onions and hoisin sauce. A crispy, brown duck was then presented to us before a waiter with a very big knife. He then sliced pieces of Peking duck, meat and skin and laid them on a platter.

‘Has everyone had Peking duck before?’ he enquired. Most of us had. But seriously, the instruction is a part of the charm at Old Kingdom. ‘QUARTER PAST THREE!’ he yelled, rather intimidatingly. ‘ONION AND CUCUMBER AT QUARTER PAST THREE. NOT THREE! QUARTER PAST THREE!!’ And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you arrange your Peking duck pancake ingredients. Drizzle with a bit of sauce, fold it up and this is when I ignore the instructions completely and just bunch the whole lot up and shove it in my mouth. I am a classy girl.

Let me tell you, Peking duck is much much better when you have 20 people on the table. They recommend 2-3 persons per duck. With half the dining room booked out to us, we pretty much had unlimited duck pancakes. After we stuffed our faces with the pancakes, the second course of stir-fried beansprouts and duck meat arrived.

What can I say? If the gist of it goes different ‘layer’ of the duck is used for different course i.e. crispy skin for the pancake course, succulent meat for the second course (in Thailand they do larb out of it, seriously) and the bones for the soup – Old Kingdom happily didn’t give a damn and gave us skin/meat pancake, bits of leftover meat for stir-fry and bones for the soup. The beansprouts and duck stir-fry was a lot more beansprouts than duck, but I didn’t mind it.

Our huge tureen of duck soup then followed shortly after. The stock was very plain and again, not very ducky. A few people complained it of being MSG-laden soup. I didn’t find it all that great but again didn’t mind it too much.

All in all, I thought the duck pancake was good enough (a few thought it was fried and it really shouldn’t have been) but not fabulous. Neither were the other courses. But fact of the matter was we enjoyed ourselves immensely and the whole three-course duck-with-gallons-of-pinot experience was just simply too much fun to pass up if you haven’t tried it already.

Just so you know, you need to make a booking and pre-order the duck (at the cost of $55 per duck) and they do two sittings only (6pm or 8pm). So ring ahead.

Old Kingdom
Address: 197 Smith St., Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: (03) 9417 2438

This time last year I ate at:Me Dee Thai Restaurant, Springvale

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