Lao Beijing: the Best Peking Duck in Shanghai

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Peking duck is one of China’s most famous dishes for good reason. Specially-bred and fattened ducks are glazed and hung in a wood fire to roast until the browned skin is crisp and the meat succulent. A specialty of Beijing, roast duck was first mentioned in a cookbook for the royal kitchen in the 14th century. The delicacy was soon being enjoyed by the landed aristocracy and was introduced to the rest of society in the 19th century with the opening of Quanjude restaurant. Today, Peking duck has become as synonymous with China as the panda bear.

We had a mind-blowing experience with roast duck in Beijing and wanted to see if we could replicate it in Shanghai. Some quick online research led me to Lao Beijing, a Bund-area restaurant said to have some of the best quackers in town.





The extensive menu was explained to us in English by a friendly server. In addition to a range of a la carte Chinese dishes, there were several set meals from which to choose. Since we were a party of four, we ultimately decided on the “Emperor” roast duck set, which would include the whole duck from beak to tail.

Soon after our order was placed, a chef wheeled a cart next to our table and began to expertly carve our roast duck. He began by carefully removing the skin, which was cut into pieces and added to our appetizer plate. Slices of kiwi fruit sat on what looked like Pringles potato chips and dollops of raspberry jam. We were highly skeptical, but the combination was strangely delicious.




So weird, but oh so good.

While we were busy gobbling down the crispy skin appetizer, the chef finished carving the rest of the bird. The choicest meat and skin were arranged on a plate along with the legs and head which had been cleaved in half. We left the head but devoured the rest, making Chinese-style tacos with paper-thin pancakes and cucumber strips. We had individual cups of plum sauce for dipping, which is a good thing as we got a wee bit competitive for those last succulent pieces.




We had plenty of food, though, as the duck’s innards were next served chop suey-style with yet more pancakes and vegetable strips. I’m not usually one for offal, but even this dish left us licking our fingers.

Letting nothing go to waste, a soup was made from the duck’s bones. This was served in a porcelain vat at the end of the meal. We supplemented our meat extravaganza with a few cold vegetable dishes from the a la cart menu and left more than satisfied.



Lao BeijingΒ θ€εŒ—δΊ¬
Address: 1 Henan Nan Lu, Shanghai, China
Pricing: 398 RMB for the Emperor roast duck set (66 USD) – will feed four people; cheaper and smaller sets are also available.


16 thoughts on “Lao Beijing: the Best Peking Duck in Shanghai

    • It’s so good here but is definitely not a meal you can indulge in often. The fat content in these ducks is outrageous!

  1. Yummm. I was just at a grand opening of a hotel that had an amazing Chinese restaurant. They had the peking duck pancakes already rolled out. All the deliciousness with none of the work. Score!
    James recently posted…Beach Eats in Nha Trang, VietnamMy Profile

    • Nice! Though rolling our own forced us to slow down and savor them more. Had they been pre-rolled we would have gobbled them up in an instant!

  2. Oh god. That looks so good. Most of the time I think back on China and think “never again”, but the one thing that makes me feel legitimately sad about that is when I think about Peking duck. We splurged on it when we were in Beijing and it was SO worth it. Like you, I was a bit befuddled by the idea of paring the crispy duck skin with something sweet (at our restaurant, the duck skin was dipped in sugar!) but having had it, now I can’t imagine eating it any other way and that kiwi/mystery jam/duck skin combo sounds divine! We also had these amazing pancakes where the duck meat was rolled with a garlic paste and cantaloupe, which also blew my mind. I just finished dinner but I would happily tuck into that all over again!

    It’s so interesting to see the different spins on Peking duck that you can find throughout the country and at different restaurants! The only common thread seems to be that if you go for the feast, you can’t go wrong!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…What We Ate: TainanMy Profile

    • I can understand why you wouldn’t want to return to China. I have those moments myself. It can certainly be a challenging place, especially for foreigners who aren’t exactly made to feel welcome. We just went to Budapest for a week and the change was so refreshing! I didn’t have to body check anyone to keep them from cutting in line and I didn’t have to listen to the constant sounds of spitting and car horns. But China can be fun too. Chengdu and the panda reserves are amazing, Yangshuo and the karst formations are gorgeous and Yunnan Province is just spectacular. And of course there is the food πŸ™‚

  3. It looks delicious! My friend visited there last 2 years and he recommended me to try this one. But I have never had a chance to visit China.
    Have you ever been to Vietnam? It’s close from China πŸ™‚
    At the same time…please check out my latest post at The art of bargaining in Vietnam

    • Hi Boris, I visited Vietnam last year and enjoyed it very much. The food was so delicious! I hope you make it to China one day πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Lady! It’s probably better that you don’t. I shudder to think about how many calories we consumed that night!

    • Yes, they do have a smaller duck on the menu though our waiter told us it wasn’t available at the time of our visit. You can also get a smaller set with a full-sized duck and I believe there is a half-bird option as well. But once you taste it, you’ll definitely want a whole one πŸ™‚

  4. Unfortunately, we followed the nice review of this restaurant, looking for a true peking duck experience in Shanghai. Bottom line, Im disappointed and do not recommend this place!
    We got there at 8:30pm, the entrance to the building looks like an inexpensive hotel. We went through from the entrance to the opposite door out and only then understood that we had to take an elevator to the 3rd floor. After we ordered, we waited for about 45min and the stufff didnt speak english. When the duck was finally ready and served, it appeared as a small portion for one, maximum for two to share, you can see it on the plate at the picture before the last one. We did not receive the pancakes and not the soup! The duck was very good, but too small for four. And it was out of the question to wait another 45min. Before we finished the meal, the waitress came and asked us to pay and stood near the table until we paid the bill. One minute later she returned and showed us that one of the bills had a minor cut and she requested to replace it! What is this place? Stay away. I was at the famous peking duck restaurant in Beijing. There you get the service you expect. This place was far below expectations.

    • “What is this place?”

      I asked myself that question many times in China πŸ™‚ Customer service isn’t a concept that has caught on there, and the service you describe is very typical for Chinese restaurants in Shanghai. We lived there for two years so just learned to deal with it. The waitresses at just about every restaurant will stand over your shoulder waiting for you to pay. We never had bills returned in China, but they were very strict about the condition of the bills in Singapore. Our server at Lao Beijing spoke English, but we also speak some Mandarin which definitely helps. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your experience, but I stand behind my recommendation. I’d go earlier in the evening, ask for the English menu and laugh about the very Chinese service!

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