MSG: The Melbourne Social Guide

Helping you add flavour to this wonderful city.

Old Kingdom

with 46 comments

Old Kingdom


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.

“6 please.”

“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.

Jess’ Ratings

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?


Written by glutamatejess

May 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

46 Responses

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  1. It was probably going on a decade now, but my uncle sold his restaurant in East Bentleigh to a guy who specialised in Peking Duck. It was terrfic when we tried it. But it may have changed hands again in the interceding ten years or so. And East Bentleigh’s a fair way to go for duck. In any case, it’s called Coconut Inn.

    I’ve been meaning to try that Peking Duck place upstairs of Maxim’s bakery on Little Bourke. Have you been?


    May 26, 2010 at 10:36 am

    • DaHu? No I haven’t.. I’ve always wanted to, couple people have said good things about it… We should go 🙂 Apparently there’s this place in Nunawarding – Happy cook or something, which is meant to be really good.
      I would travel to East Bentleigh for peking duck if it was good. Though I would be very upset if I travelled all that way and it wasn’t good 🙂


      May 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

  2. Oh man, went there for the first time ever and had this banquet. It got a bit messy but was great to go with so many fellow food wankers!

    Do I smell a Peking duck battle, because you’re just the guys to do it!


    May 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

  3. I’m glad my hint wasn’t left unnoticed 😉 Thank god it’s winter and we can hide our peking duck fat in big woolen (oversized) clothing. U game Gem ?:P


    May 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    • For sure Jess! Very interested in furthering MSG-EDS relations 😀 I’d be more for the testing than outright recommending places to start. Do we need to start gathering intel now or what!


      May 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm

  4. Oh sorry to hear that you felt let down by Old Kingdom. I have to agree with you on the stir-fry and soup (I NEVER have the soup) but I do think that they’re duck is one of the best I’ve tasted. And that’s after eating a couple of meals of duck in Beijing in well-researched, reknowned restaurants.

    What is the Peking duck place on Lt Bourke that Billy mentioned?

    Jetsetting Joyce

  5. i would suggest quanjude on Queen st in the city…. had great duck with wonderfully crispy skin with the fat rendered out the last few times i’ve been there. Having said that, you only get two courses out of it .. the duck and soup and it does cost a bit more then Old Kingdom. If you do go, make sure yo utry the Wagyu beef stirfry as well… its definitely YUMMMMMMMM


    July 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

  6. […] rolls + vegetable rice noodle soup at Lam Lam: before an acupuncture appointment with Raffaele 38) Peking duck from Old Kingdom: with Stella and Dianne 39) Spaghetti with pesto from Yum Yum Tree in […]

  7. […] We dined on a Monday night, and a full restaurant was emptying out and turning around for another full second sitting. No surprise, given he was recently reviewed in The Age’s Epicure, and the word was spreading around Melbourne that Simon Lay – the famed Peking Duck Nazi, was back. Simon had set up and made Old Kingdom an institution but sold it three years ago and whilst they kept the Peking duck banquet, it had gone steadily downhill, as reviewed earlier. […]

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