Simon Lay, the ‘duck nazi’ from Old Kingdom has returned to the restaurant arena with a bang. His newly opened restaurant, Simon’s Peiking Duck, is situated on a small shopping strip in suburban Box Hill South and has been welcoming locals and Melbourne foodies for over a month now. I’m so glad I live close by.
It was a good thing that we had booked (for 3 people) at 6pm because we received personalised service from Simon himself. A little later as the restaurant filled up, the cutting and serving of the duck was left to other waiters. It’s also a good idea to pre-order your duck so it comes out quickly (who’d want to wait for such a delicious meal right?). We ordered one whole duck between us with option 2 which consisted of duck skin and meat, 15 pieces of pancakes/wraps, 15 pieces of spring onions, 15 pieces of cucumber with plum sauce as the first dish. The second dish is duck meat stir fry with (handmade) noodles and lastly duck bone soup with bean curd, all for $63.
Simon was very nice and made jokes while he explained to us exactly how Peking duck is wrapped and eaten. “3 o’clock, 9 o’clock then 6 o’clock” were his words. From where I was sitting though it was more like 6 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
I’m from mainland China and have eaten many Peking ducks in my lifetime. You’d think I’d be an expert at wrapping them by now right? Wrong! When I tried to do it myself, I accidentally placed the duck and other fillings directly in the centre. It looked ok in the photos but I couldn’t finish the wrapping so had to move them to the edge. I did eventually get it right I guess. Find the difference in these two photos! Yuye or Batasan stole an orange from the plate during my photo-taking but I didn’t manage to catch the culprit.
The crispy and thin duck skin, the beautifully flavoured and tender duck meat, the crunchy and fresh sensation of the cucumber and spring onion topped with the eggy but firm wrap – it was just heavenly. I could have sat there and ate all night if I wasn’t hindered by the limitations of my stomach. We found the skin of the duck to be thinner than other places and more crunchy and the wrap was less stretchy and used more eggs which gave it a less starchy/hard to chew feeling. Absolutely superb. Oh and the plum sauce was also great, nicely salted and not as gluggy as some other places.
After we polished off the first dish, we were ready for our noodles. The first thing Batasan commented about was the lack of greens. I guess that wasn’t what we were there for! The noodles were softer than I expected and were short (so didn’t make a mess from my unco chopstick skills) and was quite tasty from the soy sauce and duck flavours. There were also shiitake mushrooms and some small bamboo bits in the dish which gave it extra flavour. It would have been better if the noodles were slightly harder and perhaps add in some bokchoy.
The last dish, which is also somewhat of a palate cleanser, was the duck soup. The broth tasted traditional and Simon’s version doesn’t lose to any of the other Chinese restaurants I’ve been to. The tofu was silky, the bokchoy was soft from hours of cooking, only the duck was a bit dry and tough from being cooked for too long. This is fine since it’s the soup we’re after here. I did find that the soup was a bit too peppery, perhaps it’s best to give the customers a pepper shaker to add their own. I know many people who can’t touch even a little bit of pepper which might create a bit of trouble here.
The three of us shared 2 desserts – banana fritter with ice cream and syrup and deep fried ice cream both for $5 each. The batter on the banana made it look almost like a beer battered fish fillet. The banana was warm and moist in the centre and we were given plenty of sweet syrup and ice cream. However, although nice, I must say it wasn’t anything special.
The deep fried ice cream was quite nice though. It was covered in coconut shavings and bread crumbs which was then deep fried in very hot oil so the ice cream in the middle stayed frozen. We were quizzical when we found little pieces of unknown objects in our dessert but realised it was just uncooked bread crusts presumably used as part of the batter and just wasn’t fried because it got pushed into the centre.
Overall we were very happy with our meal. All of the dishes we had were very delicious and cheap (all up was around $25 per person), especially the crispy skin of the duck (always my favourite part). 1 duck with option 2 is about enough for 3 people if no one’s super hungry. If very hungry, perhaps an extra dish or entree will do the job. If (for some strange incomprehensible reason) you didn’t feel like Peking duck, you can also order regular dishes from their menu which offers many traditional Chinese and Malaysian dishes. Next time I’ll be bringing my family here because my brother LOVES Peking duck, he can probably eat a whole duck himself. Thanks Simon for a lovely night!
Simon’s Peiking Duck
(03) 9898 5944
197b Middleborough Rd, Box Hill South 3128