Simon’s Peiking Duck
197b Middleborough Rd
Box Hill South, VIC 3128
03 9898 5944
Peking Duck aficionados should be well familiar with Old Kingdom in Collingwood. My first meal there a decade ago blew me away.
You may also know that the owner, Simon (also known as ‘The Duck Nazi’), has sold Old Kingdom and moved his operations to Box Hill. All that said, I have not noticed any drop in quality in Old Kingdom’s food despite the change of hands.
I included Peking Duck in my folk’s itinerary partly because of nostalgic reasons. Mum has always loved that dish, and Old Kingdom was such a gastronomic joy for them when they last dined there ten years ago. However, this time I decided to do that long drive and have a go at Simon’s instead of Old Kingdom.
As far away as it is, it’s a busy restaurant that caters to the Eastern suburb population. Even with two seating sessions each evening, it’s imperative that you book.
The concept is simple. A whole duck provides you with a 3-course meal, at $55 per duck. Add $8 more and the second course gets upgraded with a choice of added noodles. For those of us with decent appetites, one duck feeds two people perfectly. There isn’t any need to order rice or any of the supporting dishes in the menu.
Duck skin, 15pcs homemade pancake, spring onion, cucumber & special plum sauce
And here’s the man himself, Simon!
As always, there’s a bit of showmanship involved. He arrives with the plates of condiments and pancake wraps, then frisbees them at our plates, getting us to catch them in mid-air. Scary! And then the usual orders are barked: to place our condiments on the wrap at the “quarter past three” position. Next, place a piece of duck, apply the sauce, then fold.
The technique behind folding is learnt fast by all patrons because the wraps are so yummy that you just want to eat them quick!
Purists may say this is quite a barbaric way to serve Peking duck, with the duck being sliced so roughly, and with so much meat still attached to the skin. But it doesn’t matter to me. The wraps are so wonderful in texture and the duck so delicious it just works!
Two things I noticed were different here that evening.
First, the duck wasn’t served as piping hot as they are at Old Kingdom. And secondly, there wasn’t the ritual of bringing out a whole duck and slicing it up right in front of you. I think that ritual is part of the joy of eating Peking duck.
Stir-fried beanshoot with duck meat
Second course is carb-free if you go the regular way. I personally am more than happy to devour these umami-laden beanshoots, though I thought they could be a touch more generous with the duck meat in this stir fry. Then again, only 1 duck out of the 3 we ordered (for a table of 6) was ‘made’ into this second course.
Duck meat stir-fried with noodle
The other two ducks were channeled into becoming a noodle dish for the second course (at $8 more per duck). In this case, we chose hor fun (thick flat rice noodles).
A beautiful dish in its own right, I’m surprised I’ve never previously chosen this noodle option at Old Kingdom. Mum loved it, it was reminiscent of sweetish char kway teow, with a delightful charred flavour.
Duck bone soup with bean curd
The final course is dad’s favourite. A cleansing, salted vegetable soup made from duck bones. I found the soup here quite salty, possibly heavy with MSG, with quite a strong punch of star anise.
There are a few differences between here and Old Kingdom, but they are trivial. The meal here was still very good and most of my dining companions were more than satisfied. All that said, I will probably just stick with Old Kingdom for my Peking Duck fix simply because it’s much closer to my home.