I have a story about crispy duck, or rather Crispy the Duck. The now sadly deceased comedian Malcolm Hardee used to have a floating pub called the Wibbly Wobbly, a converted boat in Greenland Dock in Rotherhithe. I went to this pub several times and on the boat was Malc’s pet guard duck whose name was, you guessed it, Crispy. Until now that was the only story of any merit I had about crispy ducks.
I don’t know what happened to Crispy but I’m sure he didn’t end up on a plate. Most ducks in Beijing do end up on a plate as the local speciality is Peking Duck.
Not trying the Peking Duck in Beijing is a bit like visiting Cornwall and not having a Cornish Pasty, or going to Australia and not eating a steak the size of a table or travelling to Jamaica and not eating Jerk Chicken.
Anyway, it was my last night in Beijing and I plumped for dinner at DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant which seemed to come well recommended.
There’s plenty of restaurant reviews for the place so I’ll just say that it was quite a refined and well presented version of the dish and generally decent although very, very expensive compared to other restaurants in the city and, in truth, not the best meal I ate in Beijing by some way.
I actually preferred the many cheap street restaurants and some of the regional food you don’t typically find in the UK, perhaps my favourite was Yuner Town, a Yunnanese restaurant somewhere near Andingmen.
I payed for the meal, somewhere in the region of 320¥ (approx. £32), with four 100¥ notes, all of which I had picked up from a Travelex bureau in the UK.
The waiting staff returned claiming one of the notes was fake and presented me with a note held together with sticky tape that resembled monopoly money.
I insisted that I had not given them this note and was marched unceremoniously to the CCTV room to view the ‘evidence’, after 40 minutes of arguing my case (not easy given the language barrier) I accepted I had been scammed and I decided to cut my losses.
Apparently this is a common scam in China, and I’m sure elsewhere, but not one I’d perhaps expect in a high end restaurant such as this that presumably relies on a steady stream of tourists through the door.