197 Smith St, Fitzroy 3065
Ph: 9417 2438
Tue-Fri noon-2.30pm, 5pm-10.30pm
Sat-Sun 5pm-11.30pm. (Dinner seatings at 6pm and 8pm only)
“Hi I’d like to make a booking for Saturday night.”
“6pm or 8pm” barks the answer on the phone.
“How many people.”
“How many duck.”
Everyone that is familiar with Old Kingdom will be familiar with this ritual; You ring, you order the amount of duck. A good rule of thumb is one duck for two-three people, depending on how much duck you can handle.
Located in the middle of Smith Street, this place has become an institution for peking duck.
Prior visits, we have ordered other things on the menu, but we have since learnt that despite the large menu, there is no point. Everything else is average at best. We, as most other people in the restaurant just opted for the duck banquet.
The duck banquet consists of a three course meal for $55.
The first course, the whole duck (minus the head) is brought out and presented to you, glistening in all it’s glory.
The duck man holds the duck in one hand, and in the other a cleaver to carve the shiny duck skin for you.
These pieces are then rolled in a thin pancake, with some pickled cucumber and radish and rolled in hoisin duck sauce.
The rest of the meat is cooked in a stir-fry with spring onions and bean shoots.
And the bones are used for a soup with tofu and vegetables.
*Looks* amazing right? Unfortunately, Old Kingdom has changed ownership in the past couple of years and it is not what it used to be. The duck skin is not delicately crispy as it used to be, rather it is just hard and seems fried rather than roasted. The stir-fry is overly oily, and the soup had a hint of ‘dirty-dish-water’ flavoured with MSG. The famous ‘duck-nazi’ is gone, who used to dictate and tell you how to roll your peking duck pancakes, and the kid that carved our duck for us did it quickly and robotically.
Taste: 4. Such a let-down. A lot to live up to as past visits had always been nothing short of delicious.
Value: 4. Peking duck is notoriously expensive, this however was a poor example of it. Each additional pancake is $2. As if.
Service: 4. They just didn’t care.
Atmosphere: 4. The restaurant was cold. The most fun thing about this place is that everyone else is eating the Peking Duck.
Overall: 4. So disappointing, as prior visits had always left me full and satisfied, and I had always claimed that Old Kingdom was the best peking duck place in Melbourne for excellent value. the only saving grace is that corkage is still $2 a head, so our dining party at least were able to enjoy some nice Pinot Noir with our duck.
Such a let down – left me craving Peking Duck more, as it did not fulfill my Peking Duck cravings. So, leaves me with the question – Where is the best Peking Duck in Melbourne?