A Peking Duck Reunion @ Toh Yuen, PJ HiltonMay 3, 2011 | 4,005 views
Peking Roast Duck @ Toh Yuen, PJ Hilton – In its most glorious, pre-dissected stage. Almost of perfectly unreal aesthetics, the glistening crisp and caramelized skin was first basted and glazed in a secret concoction (duh), before being roasted in the open fire oven.
Talk about Peking Duck, and the first thing that sprang to mind was that unforgettable feast back in Beijing. But that was a good 6 years ago. Or maybe more. So much so that I have absolutely no recollection of the experience whatsoever, other than the routine carving of a very large fowl (Peking duck in its original form should be at least 3kg or more!) by the side of our table. And then there is the prerequisite of mastery in carvery; slicing up the crisp skin (almost devoid of fat now; thanks to the immense heat from the roaster) with a sliver of meat intact for texture.
Followed by scrambling of warm flour pancakes (almost like fluffy tortilla bread), open up on palms, then generously picking up the julienned characters; cucumber and spring onion, but not before spreading a good spoonful of ‘hoi sin’ sauce on the base. Then gingerly picking up a piece (or two) of the real deal of crispy duck skin then placing it on the bed of greens; and finally rolling up the whole ensemble and popping a mouthful (usually small enough to be downed in one-two mouthfuls) and the rest was BLISSFUL history.
Storytime’s over? Now let’s fast forward to 2011; and here’s the first Peking Duck Feast I have had in YEARS.
The birds have to be hung and dried before being roasted; to retain that juiciness yet do not compromise on the crispiness of the skin. That’s the most important point of eating Peking roast duck anyway.
Notice how the fiery heat from the flames was not condoned off from the ducks; which were being continuously circulated in the brick oven; and the fire almost licking the birds from the side; not from the bottom. The whole process does not take ages; barely an hour if I remember correctly.
Clockwise from top left : 1. The warm pancakes as the base. 2. Condiments include; a mustard-base sauce, a pinkish-mashed ginger, a greenish mashed spring onions and one other I forgot. 3. Painstakingly carving up the duck, before serving. 4. The contrasting cultures – Traditional OR New Age?
A whole duck; but these crackling pieces of delectable skin with a thin layer of meat underneath were all that we got. Just amazing how precious the skin was; being distributed to diners on the same table in an almost ration-like manner.
Everything was prepared for us; but of course … feel free to let your imagination run wild and come up with your own combination. Just avoid the mustard/wasabe if you’re not fond of getting that pungent kick up your nostrils.
Essentially, the ideal Peking Duck should be made from larger ducks; more than 3kg would be the standard. But then again, to source for certified-Halal ducks and setting a minimal weight of >3kg is almost rendered impossible. Toh Yuen IS a Halal establishment, or at the very least, pork-free to my knowledge.
In China; case in point being Beijing, the chefs acquired a special skill, or rather apparatus to puncture the duck somewhere below the wings and the mixture of herbs and stuffing would be inserted from top to bottom, before sealing the minuscule orifice followed by the roasting process.
However, here in Malaysia, this special technique could not be replicated. Hence, what we have here is the usual marinade and stuffing from the ‘bottom up’ so to speak. Thus you can see from the second picture on how the erm, derriere of the ducks got sealed up after the initial stuffing and glazing procedures.
The other dishes served on that evening – 1. Chilled Salad Duck Roll, 2. Braised Duck Soup with Sea Cucumber & “He Shou Wu” (a type of Chinese herb famous for its blackening of hair benefit. Or so most people believe. Read my Meng Kee Steamed Soup post for a more affordable version), 3. Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Crab Meat and Tobiko (we were given a choice between the two soups) and 4. Pan fried Cod Fish with Sweet & Spicy Sauce and Julienned Vegetables.
Braised Broccoli with Sea Cucumber and Prawn
Claypot Braised Duck Rice with Flower Mushroom
Although the skin was used in the initial serving (and the most popular, indefinitely) of Peking Duck Rolls, the rest of the bird was not wasted but incorporated into several lip-smacking dishes. The Chilled Salsa Duck Roll was a cold appetizer with chunks of duck meat (some with skin) and cubes of fresh mangoes on top. The Braised Duck Soup did not use the roast duck prepared on the spot, but still fully utilize the boney portions of the duck, with considerable chunks of meat intact coupled with the invigorating choice of Chinese herbs to result in a most nutritious soup.
The rest of the Peking Duck were cooked with the rice in a huge claypot enough for sharing, with sliced mushrooms for an added earthy aroma.
The rest of the dishes did not manage to capture the attention, or even the gist of the feast. Pan fried cod fish being the weaker link of them all, suffering from a mixed reaction of neither here nor there. The sauce was an uncanny resemblance to Thai chili sauce, and the addition of chopped onions added weightage to that fact. The braised broccoli with sea cucumber and prawn arrived in a smaller portion than desired, though the combination of succulent prawn and bouncy fresh sea cucumber braised until soft was much revered. The broccoli was the odd one out, surprisingly.
Coffee Pudding – A smooth, not-too-sweet finish to the meal. Choose this over mango pudding, if that’s your worry.
Toh Yuen serves Imperial Peking Duck all year round. And probably the only restaurant that takes immense pride in its Peking duck signature, without compromising on the other Chinese dishes and even dim sum on their repertoire.
The Imperial Peking Duck Set Menu from Master Chef Lee is priced at RM99++ OR RM108++ per person. The dishes we sampled were a blend of something from each menu, but the difference between the sets is not that disparaging. For the slightly premium set; you get steamed duck dumpling, steamed pomfret and claypot braised duck rice with dried scallop and dried prawn roe, with the shark’s fin soup and coffee pudding. While the RM99++ set comes with braised duck soup, pan fried cod fish and mango pudding as dessert.
*I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to PJ Hilton for the invite, and this amazing chance of a reunion with my childhood memories. Okay … so few years back was not exactly childhood memories, but still …..
TOH YUEN RESTAURANT
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2, Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Telephone : +603-7955 9122 ext 4073/4074
The Peking Duck set is available for Lunch (12pm – 2.30pm) and Dinner (7pm -10.30pm) daily.