A Wong is taking a fresh approach to a number of Chinese dishes, and at this visit I had the chance to see what they could do with Peking Duck. This can be one of the world’s great dishes, though sadly in England we are often used to a parody version of it in Chinatown restaurants. The A. Wong version has gone through a great many refinements and now consists of no less than eight courses from the duck.
The ducks used here are from Silver Hill in Ireland. Only the smallest 2.3kg birds are used as they offer the best quality in meat juiciness to skin crispness ratio. Peking duck is prepared by blowing air in between the skin and flesh, then air drying, blanching with maltose (malt sugar), drying again, chilling slightly, then drying again. The duck is cooked in an oven with the temperature increased at increments. In this kitchen a modern combo oven is used to extract moisture from inside the oven. In China this would happen naturally in an open wood fire oven. The effect, either way, is to keep the duck dry and crisp.
The first course is smoked duck breast with pomegranate salad. This simple dish shows off the deep flavour of the duck, which is immediately apparent. Duck broth is made from the duck bones, dates, pickled daikon and carrots. Shanghai soup dumpling is topped with duck skin, the latter having really good flavour.
The skill of the kitchen here comes through with the delicate duck skin, served simply with a little sugar. This had the same lovely flavour but was also very delicate. The version at Made in China in Beijing is a touch more delicate still, but this was very impressive. Duck breast was then served with the traditional pancakes, with plum sauce, cucumber and spring onion. The pancakes were thin, the plum sauce good, the meat delicious.
Duck with hoisin sauce was impressive, cooked with salsify and plum powder. Duck mince with beans had good flavour but its texture made it a little hard to pick up with chopsticks. Crisp duck with chilli for me was a little too sweet, but again the duck itself was very good. This is a real duck extravaganza, which at £38 seems to me very reasonable given the tremendous effort that has gone in, and the high quality of the result. This Peking Duck is up there with the very best that can be eaten in London, comparable to the superb version at HKK, and of a higher class than any other that I have tried in the UK. Be aware that you need to pre-order this dish when booking.