King’s Delicacy: Superb Peking Duck

Shanghai Spot closed its doors recently and it appears that its head chef has moved over to King’s Delicacy in Causeway Bay, a Chinese restaurant with a duck logo. The restaurant is possibly the largest on Fashion Walk food street, occupying the corner area facing Gloucester Road, where the row of restaurants seems always to capture the imagination of those driving by.

Expecting a rather traditional and more down-to-earth vibe, I was a bit surprised to find that the restaurant was fairly contemporary, including in it a sizeable cocktail bar that extends to an open air bar counter facing the Food Street and a spacious, outdoor seating area. The bar is run by an amicable mixologist who, during the entire evening we spent at the place, was incredibly busy churning out gorgeous looking cocktails and drinks by the minute. As we started off with beer and red wine, however, we didn’t really want to mix our alcohol and get cocktails, but boy were we tempted each time exotic looking glasses were readied and quickly transported in trays to their masters.

Speaking of food, the menu selection was pretty broad. From the Chinese name of the restaurant I reckoned that it would offer Beijing and Shanghai specialties, and it did, most of them being iconic favorites amongst local—like Shanghai-style steamed soup dumplings, deep-fried sweet and sour yellow croaker, and Peking duck—but I also spotted some dishes that are inspired by Guangdong and Szechuan cuisines. It’s a mixture of regional signatures with a particular focus on duck and a splash of innovation that concerns itself less with tradition than with the zeitgeist. It could be an ideal situation for families or groups of friends who can’t agree on a single cuisine. Pricing is friendly and accessible in most instances, but rarer Chinese-style seafood delicacies are also available.

While I wanted to try at least fifteen things I saw on the menu—like for instance the eight treasure duck, fish in sauerkraut soup (they use the delicate spotted garoupa here), crispy beef short-rib, duck soup with dumplings and signature scallion pancakes—I came with a friend only and two stomachs sadly wouldn’t fit them all. But we did get to try at least a few dishes.

The Peking duck was definitely a star and a bargain that is not to be missed if you like Peking duck, as the kitchen does seem to go through all the laborious steps to prepare the birds here to a high standard and still offer them at a competitive price. The rest of the mains were also pretty good for their price tags. Portion size was generous. All in all, we spent a pleasant time here, taking five beers and two glasses of red—some Australian shiraz that was peppery and fruity—chatting all night till we were chased out at 10.

Food Rundown

King’s Delicacy Peking duck, half, with six “sides” and condiments, $228
Inspecting the beautiful brown skin and taking a nibble at it I knew that this was not a fast food-style Peking duck where corners are cut. The duck here is first cleaned, blanched, glazed, briefly air-dried before being frozen again for a few days. After that, the duck is taken out to air-dry before being roasted. The timing and control of the final steps are crucial in creating a perfect fat distribution for a duck skin that is both satisfyingly chewy and crispy. The skin really stood out, but the duck meat itself was also very moist and flavorful. Serve it with spring onion, a crunchy side and a dollop of sauce. I prefer less flour, so I tear one pancake in four and could create four rolls out of each piece. I find that having more meat in each roll is more satisfying, though having at least a little bit of the pancake is necessary for the best mouthfeel. Just order the duck, and do what you like with it best.

Sautéed diced chicken with walnut, half, $98
A simple dish is sometimes the best test for a restaurant. A hot dish of Chinese-style sautéed diced chicken is something I often miss, and the restaurant has prepared it well here, taking care not to use too much oil and salt to cater to the health-conscious. The chicken pieces were also very tender. I suppose the other special thing about this dish is the use of candied walnuts, which is an “upgrade” not only from peanuts, but from the more commonly seen cashews in Hong Kong. Back in the old days in Beijing, peanut was the only available nut—and given my peanut allergy many shops would just end up either frying up a dish with not enough meat to cover the plate, or decline to offer it completely. So, don’t confuse this for an absolutely conservative imitation of the traditional dish. It’s a new interpretation.

Deep-fried lamb chops with cumin, $208
My only question about the dish is why it was deep-fried rather than roasted. Deep-frying is much faster, but it seals too much of the fat inside the lamb which overpowers the flavors of the lamb itself. If roasted over a fire, some of the grease would melt and drip off. In any case, despite that, the lamb chops were still tasty with a scrumptious crackling and I thought the portion was perfect. More and it would be too much, less and we would be unsatisfied.

Sautéed shredded celtuce, $98
Loved this. Crunchy, aromatic, and sweet. Again a favorite dish of mine that I order everywhere I go.

Bayberry, haw paste, $48
Not too sure about this as I’m not a fan of desserts, especially Chinese ones, so I have no yardstick. But I can describe it—it’s mochi-like with a tiny bit of crunch and a mellow, mildly sweet “haw” paste inside. Its slight tanginess seems to be quite effective in calming my aroused stomach.

Fried almond tofu, $48
The “tofu” wasn’t really tofu, and was again very chewy and mochi-like. You could dip the sweet sauce beneath the fruits while serving the fried tofu for a sweeter bite.

King’s Delicacy
Greenfield Mansion, G/F, Fashion Walk,
8 Kingston St, Causeway Bay