Quanjude is massive in China.
The story goes the first Quanjude opened in 1864 when a restaurateur convinced an ex-Imperial chef to come out of retirement to serve the aristocratic duck recipes to the people. Today there are more than 50 of the restaurants in China and other outlets in Taiwan, Canada and Australia (there’s one in Melbourne, too). And throughout all this it’s maintained the kind of reputation for quality few chains here achieve.
The space has lots of natural light and light timber. There’s also an open kitchen so you can see the Peking duck prep, and a central 360-degree bar.
The Quanjude brand is based on cooking traditional Peking duck and the recipe and the ritual of making it has been preserved. The ducks have air pumped into the cavity between the meat and skin (a crucial process to achieve maximum crispness), they’re then brined, hung, glazed and roasted. The skin is served first and comes with sugar, to dip it in. Then comes the classic pancake combo (hoisin, spring onions and cucumber) and the remaining meat.
The rest of the menu covers other famous Beijing recipes – beggar’s chicken (an entire chicken cooked inside a sealed wrapping of lotus leaves and salt), fried meatballs, roast mutton and stewed pig’s organs.