It can get rough walking around the roast duck establishments of our fair city if you haven’t thrown down in a while – the smells are the primary problem. The thing to do is find an occasion, any occasion, and get back to the heart of Beijing cuisine (and by heart, we mean the recent established pinnacle). But for real, it’s not all outsider hype – the Peking duck has been roasted, attendant recipes recorded, since at least the first half of the fourteenth century, and probably well before that. For the completely uninitiated or the veteran looking for leads, we’ve collected the best of Beijing’s succulent roast duck establishments.
Founded in 1863 during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi, Quanjude is the most well-established restaurant serving Peking roast duck in all of China. It’s gained worldwide notoriety over the past few years for its attentive preparation of gourmet roast ducks, as well as its unique banquet (pretty much just duck, delicious, delicious duck, and various accouterments) featuring more than four hundred special dishes. Over the years, Quanjude has also had the distinction of serving officials from all over the world.
The name means “perfection, union and benevolence.” Founder Yang Quanren invented the hung-oven duck roasting method himself, way back in the day. The technique finds ducks roasted in an open oven over a fruitwood fire, with Chinese pear and date trees favored, to add a trace of fruit to the aromatics.
Whole duck price: 288 yuan (includes condiments)
Address: 32 Qianmen Street, Chongwen District
Telephone: 0086 010 6511 2418
Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant（利群烤鸭店）
If you want an authentic Beijing experience, check out Li Qun. Tucked away in a hutong, you’re probably going to have to follow the pictures of ducks (drawn on the walls of the hutong itself) to find it. Named for the original owner, Zhang Liqun, this place has been open since 1902. You know a place is good if diplomats from all over the world stop by, and such is the case at Liqun’s.
You’d do well to show up on either side of the rush, which is generally between 7:00 and 8:00 PM. You’ll be more likely to skip the outside wait. If you’re looking for an eatery that won’t be packed with tourists, this is not the place for you. Be warned that although they do serve a mean duck, the service can be a weak point.
Whole duck price: 190 yuan (includes condiments)
Address: 11 Beixiangfeng Hutong, Qianmen Dongdajie, Chongwen District
Telephone: 0086 010 6705 5578
Hours: 10：00 – 20:30
Hua’s Restaurant (Huajia Yiyuan) 花家怡园
Hua’s has been around since 1998, which may seem like flash in the pan type situation compared to a Quanjude or a Liqun’s, but they’ve already earned their place in the Peking duck pantheon. The ambiance is the real champion here, with a beautiful and traditional Beijing courtyard setting to get you in the mood. The piece de resistance is the Yongzheng Dynasty Roast Duck. More than a stunt, this dish is based on the “Notes of Imperial Court Food,” a document prepared during the reign of Yongzheng in the Qing. The duck is roasted to perfection with little grease, and there’s a pretty amazing variety of side dishes available, including pineapple, ham and melon, as well as the traditional cucumber.
Whole duck price: 168 yuan (includes condiments)
Address: 235 Dongzhimen Inner Street, Dongcheng District
Telephone: 0086 010 5128 3315
Jinbaiwan Roast Duck Restaurant（金百万烤鸭店）
Founded in 1992, Jinbaiwan showcases authentic Peking roast duck – no frills. Their signature home-style dishes have earned the restaurant a deep trust among customers, many of whom are regulars. Environment is elegant even though the prices are nigh unbeatable. All things considered, this is a formidable option for a first Peking duck in Beijing.
Whole duck price: 88 yuan (includes condiments)
Address: 10 Fuqian West Street, Shunyi District
Telephone: 0086 010 5116 0000
Dayali Roast Duck Restaurant（大鸭梨烤鸭店）
Established in 1997, Dayali Roast Duck Restaurant is noted for its stylish (sometimes innovative) presentation and flare as much as for its delicious Peking roast duck. There are contributing flavor notes from Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan and Hangzhou cuisine. Duck is served here accompanied by the time-tested Liubiju sweet soy sauce, stewed with sesame oil and crystalized sugar. The milky-white duck soup is simmered over a low fire for four to five hours. You get the picture: everything here is done from beyond scratch, and with love. Again, the prices are cost effective and the quality far from “cheap.”
Whole duck price: 98 yuan (includes condiments)
Address：North Side of Shucun Dongkou, Nongda South Road, Shangdi, Haidian District
Telephone: 0086 010 6297 3182
Da Dong Roast Duck（大董烤鸭店）
If you like your duck to come with a few awards, just for quality-assurance’s sake, Da Dong has been through the ringer. This place is constantly winning resounding applause from top names in restaurant awards. In what is quite possibly a bid to get all the relevant egos out from under a single roof, they have a new (bigger) restaurant by Gongti.
This chain is run by the legendary Dong Zhenxiang, himself a chef, who boasts of having redefined the Peking roast duck. He might be right. His duck is served with an array of condiments including pickles, cucumbers, watermelon, radish, mashed garlic and dark, savory brown sauce. For 266 RMB you can get a whole duck and some very well-crafted duck soup. Not bad at all.
Whole duck price: 198 yuan, plus 8 yuan per person for condiments
Address: Southeast corner of Changhong Bridge on East 3rd Ring Road, Bldg 3 Tuanjiehu Beikou, Chaoyang District
Telephone: 0086 010 6582 2892
Jiuhuashan Roast Duck Restaurant（九花山烤鸭店）
This one cropped up in the 1990s. Jiuhuashan Roast Duck Restaurant is a swanky, well-bred eatery in Haidian. It’s famous for its high-quality ducks, which come limited: two hundred every day, no more and no less.
Whole duck price: 188 yuan, plus 5 yuan per person for condiments
Address: 55 Zengguang Road, Zihu Hotel F1-2, Hiadian District
Telephone: 0086 010 6841 4518
King Roast Duck（鸭王烤鸭店）
Founded in 1997, King Roast Duck (or Ya Wang) specializes in roast duck, related dishes and the (newly) traditional all-duck banquet. The latter includes a rich spread of more than three hundred dishes, with new numbers introduced every month to replace the ten least-ordered dishes from the previous month. Yeah, it’s like that. The roast duck here is exquisitely lean and delicious.
Whole duck price: 198 yuan, plus 3-4 yuan per person for pancakes, cucumbers and sauce
Address: 1 Minzuyuan Road, Chaoyang District
Telephone: 0086 010 6204 9932
Made in China（长安壹号）
Made in China is a new concept restaurant inside the Grand Hyatt Beijing on Chang’an. The restaurant features a really exemplary Peking roast duck, authentic Northern Chinese food, and a pretty impressive wine cellar. Diners can enjoy the whole process of Peking roast duck preparation via the open kitchen. The whole duck is then thinly sliced into exactly one hundred pieces. The pancakes are delicate, softer than elsewhere, and better offset the tenderness of the duck.
Whole duck price: 268 yuan (includes condiments), plus 15 percent service charge
Address: 1 East Chang’an Avenue, Grand Hyatt Beijing 1/F, Dongcheng District
Telephone: 0086 010 8518 1234
Originally founded in 1416 (!) during the Ming, Bianyifang is without a doubt the oldest Peking roast duck restaurant in Beijing. The time-honored brand specializes in roast duck and the associated delicacies of Shandong cuisine. The name itself means “to best serve customers.” They split with Quanjude over the open-roasting method. Here it’s all closed oven, making the skin of the duck crispier and the meat juicier. Bianyifang has retained this technique from way back in the day, while everyone else has steadily adopted the open oven method.
But it’s far from a relic or curio: this restaurant consistently serves up some of the most delicious roast ducks in the capital, day in and day out. They’ve got a bunch of varieties too, with floral, tea, lotus and date flavored ducks, and garlic and vegetable scents. Worth a try.
Whole duck price: 188 yuan (includes condiments)
Address: 18 Chongwenmen Outer Street, Glory Plaza 4/F, Chongwen District
Telephone: 0086 010 6711 2244