Hunting for duck in Sydney? Whether you're all about crunchy crackled skin, spicy stir-fried gizzards or deboned duck webs, you'll find it at Quanjude, Sydney's new peking duck specialist.
Now for a little back story: the Quanjude chain first started in Beijing in 1864 and has since spread across China, Hong Kong Taiwan, Canada and Australia, selling a combined total of 3 million roasted ducks per year.
After first migrating to Melbourne in 2008, the popular duck chain has flown to Sydney, making a home in World Square this year.
Stationed over three levels, the new venue has been styled like an imperial palace, featuring oversized brass doors as well as hand-painted artworks, decorative pottery and sculptures. The impressively large venue seats up to 250 people with groups afforded their own private dining rooms (lazy susans are, of course, included).
Like many traditional Chinese restaurants in Sydney, the menu comes in the form of a leather bound book of biblical proportions, filled with colourful pictures. The good news is, you won't need to read it all — the best dishes on the first few pages.
If you haven't already taken the hint, the best thing at Quanjude is the peking duck, which comes in a whole ($118.80) or half ($68.80) portion. What makes the Quanjude duck so special is its centuries-old roasting technique, which ditches the electric oven for roasting over a bare flame.
To start with, the ducks are inflated with air to separate the skin from the flesh. Then, they are brined and glazed, hung on hooks and roasted over burning fruitwood, which helps to impart a fruity, fragrant flavour.
The duck is then delivered to the table where a chef carves it out and lays it before you, complete with wheat pancakes, sweet bean sauce, scallions and cucumber. The next part of the ritual involves stuffing your face with duck as quickly and as greedily as you can.
Quanjude's peking duck is some of the tastiest and most authentic you'll find outside of China, with the duck having beautifully moist flesh and thin, shattering skin.
Beyond the duck, there are plenty of other high-end and Northern Chinese dishes on the menu, however the few we tried weren't worth the detour. The sea cucumber, tasted too much like boiled slug (don't ask how I know) while the pork belly hot pot was too sweet and the meat unpleasantly dry.
While the bill can get exxy, dinner comes with a show too, with Quanjude hosting nightly Bian Lian performances as well as a tea pouring dance, that's ten times more epic than it sounds.
Images: Esteban LaTessa