Almost as famous as the Great Wall of China is Peking Duck in Beijing. There are many places to get this delicious bird. Bianyifang (便宜坊) is one of them.
The first Peking duck was roasted in 1416 at Beijing’s Bianyifang Kaoyadian (“Convenient to Everyone Roast Duck Restaurant”).
Claiming to be the original Peking duck restaurant – it cites a heritage that dates back to the reign of the Qing emperor Xianfeng – Bianyifang roasts its duck in the mènlú style (“焖炉烤鸭”)– in a closed oven, as opposed to a half-open one where the duck hangs to cook – and the meat is nice and tender.
They cook the duck in a new method that makes the fat crispy and lean. The chefs cook the birds in an open fire kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. Once your duck is cooked to perfection one of the chefs cuts your duck table side into 102 perfect slices of meat. No part of the duck goes to waste.
The chefs here claim to be from the same cooking methods from the Qing emperor Xianfeng (咸丰). They cook their birds in a closed oven instead of a half-open oven where the duck hangs to cook.
No catalogue of Beijing restaurants would be complete without Peking duck. Bianyifang is the oldest surviving restaurant serving traditional Peking duck in Beijing. It was founded in 1416 as a small workshop serving duck and chicken products and established as a more formal restaurant in the Qianmen area in the late Qing dynasty. Today, they have a number of branches around Beijing, but the original branch on Xianyukou Hutong remains the most atmospheric.
Bianyifang roast their ducks using the “men lu” (焖炉) method, in which the ducks are roasted inside the oven rather than above it. They claim this method gives juicier meat and crispier skin and we can vouch that their duck is as good as any other we have had in Beijing.