A couple of weeks ago we went to this Peking Duck restaurant in the city, apparently it’s a franchise in China, and this was the first branch in Australia. I’ve seen this place a few times as we drove to Queen St a fair bit to park the car when visiting the CBD, but never knew that it was actually a duck restaurant. It’s quite a large space, well, it’s like a two level place but they’ve removed the second floor so it just has a really high ceiling. The setting is nice and the service more upscale than your regular duck restaurant (i.e. Old Kingdom or Simon’s) but it’s not fine dining.
We were six people and ordered two ducks and some fried rice (as two had already eaten something), whereas normally you’d order one duck between two (if it was done three ways), this was supposedly duck done two ways, but we did not get the duck soup (apparently all of the duck bones were bagged for take away by our Chinese speaking companions). The plum sauce, cucumber, and spring onions were individually portioned and more than enough for each of us. The duck however, was sliced a bit too thinly and at that point it is not clear how many slices you should put into your own crepe. I started off with two slices, but then we had leftover duck so I upped it to three slices of duck to each pancake, so in the end it seemed like two bigger slices or three smaller slices per crepe was right, whereas at Simon’s it might just be one slice or two smaller slices to a crepe.
The duck itself was pretty good but the skin lacked the crispness that we’ve enjoyed at Old Kingdom and Simon’s, there was a side dish of fried duck fat which was a novelty. Dip it in a bit of sugar and you have quite the treat, but really, this duck meal was left a bit wanting (the fried rice wasn’t anything to write home about either), it was also about $15 bucks more expensive (78$) than Old Kingdom or Simon’s so that was definitely a thumbs down. On a side note worth noting, there was no need to pre-order the duck as is usually the case at Simon’s and Old Kingdom.
We had some friends over from Adelaide on the weekend and as is our custom, we tried to wow them with something that they might not have tried in Adelaide (or might not even have). We weren’t able to get a preferred time slot (with our kids) so we had to settle with Hoi’s in Camberwell (near our work), we weren’t too sure about it as it’s usually just a take away/quick and dirty lunch place, that has re-branded in the past year or two as a Peking Duck restaurant. But it was our only option on short notice, we ordered two ducks over the phone (for five adults), but we were actually all still quite full from lunch, and then one of the adults dropped out.
We managed to order duck three ways here, so the regular Peking duck with crepes, stir-fry duck bone (really it’s other pieces of duck that have meat on the bone), and some duck fried rice, there are also options of duck and tofu soup, and crispy noodles with duck among others. So they provide a few extra options over the other duck restaurants. The duck was sliced better here and the skin was crispier, there were also a couple of drumsticks on a plate that I happily chomped down, yes, the duck was much better here.
They did however, skimp on the sauce and vegies, and when we asked for a sauce re-fill the waiter was very stingy and only half-filled the dish. We ended up only getting one duck which was probably a good thing because we weren’t hungry enough to take a second (we didn’t bother asking about it), even if we took it with us. So food, quite good, service horrible (not to mention my toddler was messing around on his high chair and the tray collapsed sending him sprawling on the floor!) but not unexpected, at 76$ for everything including a couple of beers and tea, the value was better than Quanjude. But I’d rate it lower than Old Kingdom and Simon’s for quality of food, but they are trying, and giving the extra options (something like six or seven total) is definitely a positive. So, next time our friends come over we’ll either have to take them to Simon’s or work out something else to wow them with, we’ll probably have six months to a year :D.
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OK, here it is, I wouldn’t call it a recipe because it is so vague, I don’t really have any measurements, just a bunch of instructions with whatever quantity of ingredients you actually have. Anyway, the list of ingredients you should have include:
OK, that is your list of ingredients, what to do with them? You just have to heat up the stock, boil the egg noodles (nice and chewy is preferable), most of the cooking is with the wontons I guess. Put your pork mince in a bowl, take your egg (don’t know really, half an egg for about 150-200g of pork I reckon) and beat it a bit, and then throw it in with the mince and stir around a bit. If you have corn flour just put a bit on the prawns, then cut them (depending on the size into four parts if they’re small) and toss them in with the mince.
Chop your spring onions, coriander, and chilli nice and fine to garnish your noodle soup with. Chop your shallot finely, I like to chop it in half vertically, and then slice it into smaller bits then. Heat up a pan (the smaller the better) with your canola oil, once hot, throw the sliced shallot in, and once they start to brown, turn the heat off, and let them cook in the heat of the pan, they should be brown and crispy at the end.
Mix that around a bit, and then add a bit of salt and pepper, and stir it around evenly, add some soy sauce, you be the judge of how much you want, but don’t put much in, they really don’t need it, you can put salt in the water later to give the wontons a bit more saltiness if necessary. To make your wontons, take a wonton skin, place it on your bench, use a teaspoon to scoop up some mince making sure to get at least one piece of prawn in there and put in the centre of the skin. Folding/wrapping the wonton is a pretty simple task, my technique is just to fold the square in half (into a triangle shape), and then bring each corner toward the central corner and press down a bit to seal the wonton, it doesn’t have to be super tight.
Throw a batch of wontons (about six (6) is a good number for one bowl) into the boiling water (turn this down to medium heat at this point), and then let the wontons cook, use a thingie to stir them to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. If you find that the wontons aren’t salty enough you can add some salt to this water. I usually just watch the clock, five minutes at medium heat is a good amount of time to cook, but basically when the wontons float to the top of the water, they are done.
Put your egg noodles into your bowl, splash on a bit of oyster sauce (how much depends on how salty your stock is and how much flavour/msg you like), I prefer putting the spring onions and coriander and chilli in before pouring the stock over the top, but this is not particularly important. I do like to put the fried shallots in after the stock because it means they stay crispy a bit longer. Put the wontons on top of the noodles (and add the char siu if you have it), and pour the boiling stock over the top, mix it around so that the oyster sauce is mixed in and flavoured. That’s it, you’ve got some yummy wonton noodle soup, I hope! Look at those yummy, fragrant fried shallots on top, yummy!
Update: Here’s a picture of the same wontons fried (pretty shallow), not particularly pretty, but they were pretty yummy too, with soy sauce, or if you have that sweet and sour sauce or similar, that’d be good too.
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