Peking Perfection

Courtesy Swire Hotels, The Opposite House

The secrets behind China’s most famous dish, from the kitchen of Bejing’s Jing Yaa Tang.

Jing Yaa Tang, a restaurant in Beijing’s Opposite House, opened in September 2013 as a culinary shrine to the most iconic dish in China: roasted Peking duck. Swire Hotels managing director Brian Williams shares the secrets to serving the best bird in town.

Q: What inspired you to open a restaurant dedicated to Peking duck?

A: Guests would ask where to find the best version, and we’d send them to the usual suspects. They would often return saying something—food, atmosphere, service—was lacking. We wanted to create a place that’s definitively the top across the board.

Q: What sets your duck apart?

A: It starts with the source: Our ducks come from a government-owned farm south of Beijing, where not everyone can purchase them; all are raised cage-free. In the kitchen, an expert chef handles them—his sole duty is to cook each bird, hand-turning it every few minutes to ensure an even roast, then slice it. Each is glazed with “duck water,” a spiced sugar water. Honey and osmanthus give our sauce its fresh, sweet taste, and crushed dates draw out the flavors of the Chinese date wood we use for roasting.

Q: How intricate!

A: It doesn’t end there—each bird is carved tableside by a white-gloved waiter.

Q: Describe the first bite.

A: The skin is incredibly crisp and retains a taste of the date wood. The meat is juicy. Elsewhere, the dish can be fatty, but ours has just the right amount of meat, skin and fat. It’s everything we planned for.

At Bldg. 1, Taikoo Li Sanlitun N., No. 11 Sanlitun Rd.; 86-10/6417-6688; theoppositehouse.com.