Box Hill South, VIC 3128
Ph: 9898 5944
Website: Simon's Peiking Duck Restaurant
In Seinfeld, one of the funniest lines off the show was when the Soup Nazi said "no soup for you". Well, in Melbourne, we have our equivalent in the affectionately title Duck Nazi, Simon Lay. Simon used to work at Old Kingdom, which I didn't think that highly of at the time. According to Simon, Old Kingdom were not following his instructions anymore and hence ruined the product. After a short stint on the bench, he decided that he would open his own restaurant and do things the way he wanted. And what a success it's been. I went initially with some friends, and then later went again with some food bloggers, Celeste, I-Hua and Li and Robert. Both times, the restaurant was super packed and people were happily eating their Peiking (spelt with an extra i on purpose) duck. According to Simon, he actually prefers people to order his duck as that is what he does best.
Order duck we did both times. Why would you bother with anything else when you can eat gloriously roasted duck with super crispy skin. The first time I went, we ordered three ducks, and the first was a tad dry but the other two were perfect. The second time, again we ordered three ducks and this time they were all great. Simon comes around and shows, or more accurately marshalls everyone into making their duck pancakes. He orders us to take a wafer thin pancake and put the cucumber and spring onions at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. I defy his orders and randomly place them, for which I get scolded for. I also dared to ask for pickled vegetables, again facing the wrath of Simon. Once the veg are placed, you put in a couple of pieces of duck and spread it generously with the hoi sin sauce. It's an utterly divine mouthful and I go back for more and more until I cannot eat another thing.
But wait, there's more food to come. Depending on which option you get, you may get a stir fry of the duck meat with bean shoots or a choice of hand made or egg noodles. Go the hand made noodles every time. I force myself to eat one bowl of noodles as it too is tasty. And just when I think I'm about to drop dead due to overeating, I manage to drink one bowl of the duck soup. I always find the soup a bit salty, but I dare not tell Simon that as he said a guest told him that once, and he said he would pee into it to make it less salty.
If by this stage you are still game to go eat at Simon's, I applaud you. Because, Simon's attitude is all just a playful front. He says guests expect it from him and he happily plays along. He was extremely generous with his time on my second visit and talked to us about all aspect of cooking the duck, the number of ducks he serves a night (about 80), the 1200 pancakes he or his wife personally make between services each day, his background in the industry and his ancestral background. He laughs and drinks with us and keeps answering questions well into the night. He's a hard working and talented man. Not only is he great company, but the duck is excellent too. The skin, as others have also noted, is super crispy and delicious. The duck flavour is good and pairs well with the thin pancakes. I still think that pickles work well in Peking Duck, but that's my personal preference. You can go and try to convince Simon otherwise, good luck.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Excellent Peking Duck with super crispy skin and great value for money.
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.