Sunday, 3 August 2014

Quanjude Celebrates 150 Years

Roasting the ducks over wood from fruit trees gives the birds a sweet taste
A Beijing institution, Quanjude Peking Duck celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.

It used to be the place for the roast bird called kaoya (烤鸭), as the restaurant is covered with pictures of VIPs who have eaten there, but most prominent are the photographs of then US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger tucking into Peking Duck in 1972.

The original Quanjude location in Qianmen West
When I first visited China in 1985, we went to that restaurant and I couldn't understand why these famous people would like eating Quanjude's roast duck because it was so oily! And all they had on the menu was every other duck part, such as heart, liver, intestines, web, minced duck wrapped in cabbage, duck soup... was that all the restaurant served?

Then when I came back in 2007, I was so relieved to learn there was an alternative place -- Da Dong Roast Duck, and it is one of my favourite places, not only because the ducks are roasted a bit longer to let the grease drip off and make the skin crispier, but also because the restaurant features a number of other non-duck dishes that are just as delicious.

Perhaps that's why Quanjude is so anxious to trumpet its big anniversary this year, and marking the occasion with the opening of a museum in its Beijing restaurant.

The museum features 20 models that show each stage in preparing the famous dish. One of the stages shows the bird being pumped full of air to separate the skin from the fat.

A perfectly roasted duck before its carved...
How many people will check out the museum is hard to say, especially with hungry stomachs... nevertheless Quanjude boasts it has served 196 million ducks worldwide -- including a new branch in Melbourne!

That's a lot of ducks in 150 years...

Beijing Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
14 Qianmen Xidajie
(86 10) 6511 2418 (in Chinese)


  1. When I visited Beijing, Quanjude was the restaurant that my Beijinger friend took my mother and I to eat. Have to admit that I wasn't super impressed. Still, when my mom and I separately went to another Peking duck restaurant a few nights later, we found the duck there to be even more oily/greasy than at Quanjude! :O

  2. Hi YTSL -- You have to go to Da Dong with me next time!

  3. Be advised, about 5 years ago scandal with Quanjude restaurant selling out-dated ducks in bags (take-out)

    So either order it fresh and eat it there, or else be very careful about that place.

    1. Hi nulle! Thanks for the reminder! Yes! Eat fresh!