Location: Markham, Canada
Address: Steeles Avenue East (at Market Village)
Time of visit: Dinner on a Friday in January
Having had a lot of Peking duck in my lifetime, I was skeptical when I heard Chung King serves an amazing version of it. But, I stand corrected - it is one of the best the city has to offer.
We ordered the two course Peking duck dish ($38.96). The first course is Peking duck skin with wraps.
- The duck itself is very crispy, it must have been fried after roasting to get it to that texture. For me, I found the duck a bit dry since the one we were served was very lean. I prefer there to be a thin sliver of fat under the skin to really bring out the duck flavour and keep the meat moist. But, with a generous amount of hoisin sauce and adding cucumber to the wrap, the dryness can be masked.
- The crepes which the duck is wrapped in was the highlight for me. Too often the wraps are too small (leading to a messy dining experience), too thick (makes you think you're having a duck bun) or too floury (causing the wrapper to break). At Chung King the wrappers are perfect - paper thin, slightly bigger in size than a side plate and a chewy texture that doesn't break when pulled and wrapped. The chef who makes the wrap is talented.
Peking duck (1)
For the second course, the duck meat is removed, chopped and stir fried with vegetables and small pieces of deep fried rice noodles. The mixture is served with pieces of lettuce for the patron to make wraps. Surprisingly, the duck meat was moist in this dish and all the meat and vegetables chopped into small pieces to provide a taste of everything with each bite. The vegetables and crispy lettuce were refreshing after having the heavy Peking duck wrap.
Duck lettuce wraps (1)
Our waitress also suggested we try the Sichuan shredded beef ($10.96) which are lightly coated pieces of deep fried beef stir fried in a spicy sweet sauce. The dish was a hit with our table and very flavourful; the sauce wasn't overly thick and there was just enough of it to add some heat and sweetness. Thankfully, this complemented well with the bland pork fried rice ($7.96), the chef must have forgotten to add salt, which was not memorable and won't be reordered on our next visit.
Sichuan shredded beef (2)
To balance the meat and carbs we had an order of garlic stir fried snow pea shoots ($14.96). Note, the picture below is actually from Sam Woo BBQ restaurant and not Chung King, but they all basically look the same wherever you go. If you've never tried snow pea shoots you have should definitely order it next time you're in a Chinese restaurant. It's generally not found on the menu as historically the vegetable has been seasonal. But, with greater imports and greenhouse production, you can now find it year round.
The leaves are delicate and soft while the vines itself add a crispy refreshing texture. The vegetable has a very subtle pea taste and lends itself to pair well with whatever's added to flavour it.
Garlic fried snow pea shoot (3)
To end, the restaurant offered complementary bowls of sweet red bean soup for dessert, which was unfortunately disappointing - too watery and not sweet enough.
Overall, compared to most Chinese restaurants the service was polite and helpful. We will definitely be coming back for the great meat dishes.
Overall mark - 8 out of 10
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!
- Peking duck and lettuce wrap - Kitchenfrolic Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kitchenfrolic/sets/72157629416734154/detail/)
- Sichuan shredded beef - The Buttery Bean Counter (http://www.butterybeancounter.com/2011/05/best-darn-peking-duck-in-toronto-chung.html)
- Garlic fried snow pea shoots pictured is actually from Sam Woo BBQ - Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/sam-woo-barbecue-restaurant-san-gabriel-2?start=100#-o6vVYlU_-RjRxCUUrhNkQ)