197 Smith St
Fitzroy 3065 VIC
Phone: (03) 9417 2438
After our last Peking Duck sojourn at Quan Jude, the thirst for more duck was still high. So it was decided to try another Peking Duck house, Old Kingdom.
Old Kingdom is strangely located in Fitzroy. When you walk in, you are greeted by this cramped ridiculously dark room. It's like they have Earth Hour all year round. I really hate dark restaurants. There's a difference between mood lighting and not being able to see. Therefore I never felt truly comfortable all night.
We had ordered 4 whole ducks for the 7 of us. It was just going to be duck, duck and more duck. I had arrived late and by the time I got there, one whole duck had been consumed already. I was worried I wouldn't get my fill of duck, but I need not have worried. By duck three, we were really struggling.
The waiter came and carved each duck at the table. His skills wasn't quite as refined as the waiter at Quan Jude. The Quan Jude waiter wielded this beautiful long knife and cut each piece into a uniform rectangle with a piece of crispy skin on each piece of flesh. This waiter sort of hacked away at the duck and pulled it apart.
The pancakes, which I always thought was just the medium to hold the duck together, I have a new view of. Quan Jude's pancakes were so good and enhanced the whole parcel so much. These pancakes were more your stock standard pancakes, a bit oily and flour-y in flavour.
The Peking Duck was good, but nowhere near that of Quan Jude. The duck was a lot drier and the marinate wasn't as good flavour wise. The accompanying vegetables were cut in crude huge chunks, without the refined julienned slices that is required so that you can add just the right amount to your desire. The hoi sin sauce was stock standard and nowhere near the exquisite complex blend that Quan Jude make themselves.
After we eat the Peking Duck parcels, the rest of the meat is made into two other dishes and a soup. We are completely full by course 1 and obligingly eat a few bites of the other dishes, which are quite good.
I just didn't like the way the restaurant was lit so the ambience was all wrong for me. I just could not relax. The waiter tried his best to make jokes and it did lighten the mood but the fact that I could hardly see my friends across the table meant that it was hard to hold a conversation.
The Peking Duck was still tasty, but only marginally better than what I can do at home. It was very good value as each duck is $55 and the whole meal worked out to $35 for each of us. However, if I want a Peking Duck fix, I would definitely go back to Quan Jude, even if their ducks costs $90. The difference in quality level justifies the price in my mind. Peking Duck is something special and as I've found, over-indulging in it ruins the experience slightly. It's better to have one really good duck that many average ducks.
Overall Rating: 12/20, The Peking Duck is quite nice and good value for money. However, the restaurant ambience is uncomfortable and I would go elsewhere for truly spectacular Peking Duck.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.