Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Food: Melbourne Peking Duck @ Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar

In this town, there are restaurants that have such fanciful names, so much so that we can't tell what the places serves. On the other hand, there are places like Melbourne Peking Duck, which makes it very clear and obvious what customers are getting themselves into here. =D

We're told by the amiable owner that unbeknownst to many, the Peking Duck is a must-have in Melbourne - specifically at Old Kingdom, on Fitzroy St and or at another popular on in surburban Boxhill. We'd heard of the former during our uni days in Melbourne, but certainly couldn't afford splurging on something like Peking Duck on our student shoestring budgets. Thankfully, now someone has brought over a taste of Melbourne Peking Duck to Malaysia for us. You can also be assured that the taste is as authentic as can be, because the kitchen staff are trained by a Peking Duck master from Melbourne.

While it may be easy to spot the signboard, it may not be so simple to spot the entrance. That's because it's located on the first floor of shoplots along Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar, just a couple doors down from the PappaRich. Being on the first floor may bring cheaper rental, but it does have it's disadvantages, like the elderly having difficulty getting up the stairs. Perhaps once business starts flourishing, they could take up the ground floor as well?

When you reach the restaurant, expect to be greeted with a rather spacious setting. The furnishing is simple and modern and the touches of red keep it reminiscent of Chinese restaurants.

From the name of the establishment, it's obvious that the menu revolves around Peking Duck. Diners can choose from two Peking Duck Sets, which designed to use the entire duck. No wastage at all.

Set 1 (RM 78) consists of 16 pieces of Duck (the crispy skin and outer layer of flesh) served with pancake, scallion and cucumber, Fried Bean Sprouts with Shredded Duck Meat (the rest of the flesh), and a Duck Soup with Salted Vegetable & Tofu (boiled with the duck bones and any leftover meat).

Set 2 (RM 88) omits the bean sprouts, but insteads offers the Shredded Duck Meat with your choice of carb - fried rice, meehoon (vermicelli) or hor fun (flat rice noodles). We chose Set 2.

In the other local Chinese restaurants, it's common to only be served the skin with Peking Duck pancakes. We were told the difference with the Peking Duck from Melbourne is that chefs there slice a bit of meat together with the skin, compared with strictly just skin that we are more used to.

Waiters here are well trained in presenting the duck; each fowl is briskly sliced into 16 slices before your eyes (even Wendy's incessant photo-taking didn't throw him off one bit :p).

Of course, after his quick knifework, we were immediately served with the rest of the ingredients necessary for a tasty Peking Duck experience - pancake, scallions, cucumber, and sweet plum sauce. =D

If you've never had Peking Duck before, the way to eat it is pretty simple. First spread the sauce over the pancake, then put a slice of duck, a piece of cucumber and spring onion, and then roll it up and pop into mouth!

Purists would insist on a special technique (place the ingredients at a quarter-past-three position on your pancake - yeaaaah the picture above is totally wrong) but I say, don't be fooled by anyone trying to say there's a special way of doing this. It all tastes the just as good in the end!

We evaluate peking duck based on a few things, one of them being the texture of the pancake. The ones at Melbourne Peking Duck were very good, not overly eggy or dry; thin but holds everything inside together effortlessly. The sauce was also sweet, but not overpowering.

A closer look at the peking duck slices: crispy, shiny skin with a good bit of flesh beneath

Another dish, this one with a lower flesh:skin ratio

As for the bit of duck meat with the skin... well, we're both a bit divided on this. I'd still prefer it done the traditional way, but Wendy prefers it this way as it gives a meatier bite to the pancake. Serving aside, the peking duck really was good. The glistening skin was crispy and the layer of flesh, juicy. 

So while everyone is enjoying the Peking Duck pancakes, the rest of the meat is taken back to the kitchen for further use. They do leave the duck legs out though, which is we appreciated since the leg is usually enjoyed on its own. (As an only child, growing up it was a privilege to always get both duck legs whenever duck was on the table! =D) The duck legs here aren't as big or juicy as those commonly found in other roast duck restaurants though. In fact, we surprisingly even found it a bit tough in contrast to the flesh we tasted earlier.

Not long later, the Duck Soup with Salted Vegetable & Tofu will arrive. Sadly we found this a bit below par, as it tasted a tad MSG-ish to us, as compared to a more authentic duck broth. The whole thing was basically quite flat and we didn't really try to finish. For such a big bowl, it's definitely enough for at least 4 people.

As we had Set 2, we got the Shredded Duck Meat with Fried Rice. I was thinking of hor fun, but after their recommendation, we opted for fried rice instead. Our opinion on this also a bit is mixed; it was an good dish of fried rice, but we didn't feel like it was very special with duck meat. I still couldn't quite shake the feeling that the flavour of the duck might have been more prominent if fried with noodles. This was nice but not something we'd jump to recommend. Perhaps next time we'll really give the hor fun a go.

To round up dinner, we ordered a few other dishes from the side menu, just to have a bit of variety. These are the Marmite Pork Ribs (RM 18), one of the recommended items on the menu. Funny part was, the moment it reached the table our first question was "Where's the rib?". Turns out these were more like pork cutlets since there was a complete absence of any bone. This was nice and crispy, with the flesh rather succulent, but I thought I noted a strange aftertaste, maybe from the bed of cabbage it was on. Wendy liked it the way it was though.

The last dish we had - Kangkung fried with Sambal Belacan (RM15). The kangkung was present, but the unfortunately, the sambal never showed up. Not spicy enough for us, and we reckon not for a lot of you either.

If you're looking for a new and trendy place to take family, give this place a thought, especially if they like peking duck! We wouldn't quite vouch for their other side dishes though as even the owner himself noted that he would prefer if people just came to order the duck set, like how it happens in Melbourne.

We recommend the adeptly prepared Peking Duck here but as for the rest of the menu, well, we think it will get better thanks to the owner's passion and keen desire to improve (he noted down our feedback to relay to his chefs). Business is bustling so do try to reserve a duck if you're late or risk facing disappointment!

Melbourne Peking Duck | Facebook
No. 24-1, First Floor,
Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2202 1588
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun; 11am-3pm & 6pm-10pm. Closed on Mondays

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