Revival of the King
Simon’s Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant
197b Middleborough Road
Box Hill South
Although there is an extensive menu at Simon’s Peiking Duck restaurant – patrons come for one thing.
The duck banquet.
The Peking duck banquet consists of a whole roast duck – which, as described on the website is prepared
“at least a day in advance. First air is pumped into the duck body to stretch and loosen the skin, then boiled after is repeatedly spread over the duck, before carefully drying the duck. The duck is then roasted in a hot oven for a period of time until the meat is becomes tender and the skin crispy.”
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.
Much like the system at Old Kingdom, when I called to make the booking, Simon barked the questions
“How many people”
“6 o’clock or 8 o’clock?”
Can I have 7 o’clock?
“No. Two seatings. 6 o’clock or 8 o’clock”
Ok.. 8 please.
“How many duck?”
umm.. how many do I need?
“For 8 people.. usually… around 3. <chuckle> Though some like to have 4.”
This duck is served in a three part banquet –
The first course with the peking duck skin, served with 15 pieces of home made pancakes, spring onion, cucumbers and a special plum-hoison sauce.
The second course takes the duck meat, which stirfried with either bean-shoots or noodles. Without noodles, the banquet is $55 per duck, with noodles, the banquet is $63 per duck. You can have the choice of hand-made noodles, rice noodles, egg noodles, or hor fun noodles.
The third and final course uses the duck bones to make a soup with bean curd.
I had ordered three ducks, to the dismay of my friends, who insisted we needed at least one duck for two.
I sighed, and said I would ask Simon if there was extra duck, my friends were convinced they had to make spare ducks.
He chuckled, and said “only if you smile at me”.
What a charmer. I gave him my biggest smile so my friends wouldn’t bitch (even though I did ask them several times how many duck and no one said anything until we got there!!) and four duck it was.
I asked if this was too many, and Simon laughed and said “The table before you, four people three duck.”
Before our duck began to arrive, we could see ducks being carved around the restaurant, and devoured by each and every table. There were a few token other dishes, but everyone was here for the duck.
Our duck came, its skin glistening..
Simon himself carved our first duck, expertly and deftly cutting slices of skin, finishing the duck in a matter of minutes.. a real joy to watch.
The slices were piled high onto a plate and presented to our table..
A plate of 15 pancakes were presented, as well as 15 lengths of cucumber and 15 slices of spring onion.
Simon began by throwing some pancakes at our plates (which he missed, but was close!), and began by assembling my wrap –
“Spring onion, cucuumber at quarter past three! Duck, then sauce, now fold! “Six o’clock, Nine o’clock, three o’clock!”
resulting in a perfectly wrapped Peking duck wrap. The pancakes were delicately thin, yet surprisingly springy being able to hold the contents without tearing. These are the best duck wraps I’ve ever had. We eagerly bit into our wraps, which made a wonderful ‘crunch’ as our teeth bit through the crispy skin, releasing the juices and oiliness.
Simon, the King, is back.
We devoured the skins of our four ducks, they were just simply amazing.
For the stirfry – Simon suggested we do two with vegies, and two with noodles. He suggested we get the crispy noodles – which served Canton style which was deep fried noodles, shiitake mushrooms and gravy.
I preferred the noodles, but my friends preferred the stir fry, but they were both delicious, and despite the fact that we were stuffed, we managed to finish these.
Simon also suggested we order a vegetable and he said he’d bring us something we’ve never tried before.
Out came a mixture of asparagus, eggplant, okra stir fried in a spicy shrimp paste.
And indeed, I had never had this before, and I found it really yummy as I love asparagus, eggplant, okra and chilli. :)
To finish, the soup arrived, with thick chunks of soft tofu.
We all went home, stuffed, happy and pretty tipsy. Corkage is only $2/head. Bargain.
The night was perfect. The duck was amazing, and Simon was good fun throughout the night, coming around and joking with us all night. He even drank some wine with us, which he drank out of his tea-cup.
The only downfall of this place is its location – there isn’t really any form of public transport, which can be a problem if you consume too much Pinot with your duck.
Taste: 9. Best Peking Duck I’ve had. Stirfry and noodle were amazing, soup was ok. I’d be interested to try the other dishes, though that takes away stomach room for the ducks.
Value: 9.5. Great value, we were completely stuffed, and corkage is an absolute steal for only $2.
Service: 10. Simon is such a charmer. We all love Simon.
Overall: 9.5. Amazing experience, we all loved it.
The king is back.