The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 21 October 2011

Peking Duck @ Spring Deer, Hong Kong

Peking duck is one food I've missed eating since we moved overseas from Perth more than 5 years ago - partly due to the lack of good Chinese restaurants in Japan, but mostly because we no longer have the numbers from our family to enjoy a whole duck. We had a good Peking duck dinner last year in Sydney when we visited my Sydneysider sisters, but it had been years beforehand since we'd eaten Peking duck. My parents are visiting Hong Kong at the moment, so we took the opportunity of the extra family members to go and enjoy a Peking duck at Spring Deer. This northern Chinese restaurant has been a favourite in HK for more than 40 years, and it is most famous for its specialty: honey-glazed Peking duck. Spring Deer is listed in almost every guide books (including the Michelin guide), and I found it to be quite foreigner-friendly, with both English-speaking staff and English menu available. Its location one floor above ground level inside an unassuming building meant that we had to keep a bigger eye out for signs, but we had no trouble finding the restaurant at all.

Follow the sign:

Spring Deer is not a super-fancy restaurant, and the decor looked like it hasn't changed much since it opened in the '70s. Even the experienced staff look like they've been working at Spring Deer for years, and there wasn't a fresh-faced young waiter to be seen anywhere on the dining floor. Service was affable and efficient, and the 3-year-old got quite a bit of attention from our waiter. The menu was quite extensive, with three sizes available for each dish depending on the number of diners at the table - something that more restaurants should adopt to accommodate small groups and couples. The manager was happy to take note of our boy's allergies, and got the kitchen to prepare a plate of fried rice that was free from the allergens. It's a good thing our son loves to eat fried rice because that is what we always order for him whenever we go to Chinese restaurants as it is an easy way to get carbs, protein and veg in him (although fried rice could always do with more veg, in my opinion).

Fried Rice with prawns, roast duck, chicken, egg and not much vegetables at all. It was tasty, but it was a generous serving, and we adults had trouble helping the boy finish the plate because the duck was quite filling:

I love my meat, but I can't live without greens. Here's a yummy plate of stirfried Shanghai bakchoy, broccoli and long beans:

Moments before the pièce de résistance was served to our table, a chef had to slice up the duck flesh:

The pancake and condiments to go with the duck. The pancakes were thicker than what I'm used to (apparently a negative for many food reviewers), but I thought the thickness was actually a good thing because the duck was served with both the flesh and skin, and hence required a more substantial base both for wrapping strength and the taste. The thin pancakes are better suited for skin only, and wouldn't have worked as well here:

One duck yielded two plates like this - plenty for 4 adults:

This is how I typically assemble my pancake and duck meat, which I then fold up and eat like a spring roll. I really enjoyed it - the crispy duck skin, succulent flesh, the aromatics of the scallion, the crunchiness of the cucumber, and the savoury sweetness of the sauce were all held together in perfect harmony by a slightly doughy pancake:

We all enjoyed the Peking duck, but the four of us had a little trouble finishing the whole thing, so I was glad that it didn't come with the extra courses like we're used to. We could order the extra dishes (sang choy bau (lettuce parcels with mince duck) and duck soup) if we'd wanted to, but we opted to just take home the leftover duck carcass, which we used for soup and stirfry for dinner the following day. Lunch came to under HK$600 for 4 adults and 1 toddler, which was pretty good value for the quality we got.

This place gets fully booked weeks in advance for dinner on the weekend, so reservations are highly recommended.

Spring Deer
1st Floor
42 Mody Rd,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel. +852 2366 4012 / 2366 5839


  1. Mmmm... I love peking duck! Peking duck in China is the BEST! Less fatty than the peking duck you find in the U.S.

  2. I guess Peking duck will be one of the many things you'll be enjoying after you move to China! :)