Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Deer 鹿鳴春飯店

2 weeks or 14 days or half a month ... that is how long most people have to book in advance in to dine here. Was it worth the 2 weeks wait? Perhaps 3 - 4 days would be more reasonable in my opinion. Anyways, this is one of the few remaining old-school Chinese restaurants in town and it is famous for its Peking Duck. It is also one of the favorites among tourists as well because you will find it being recommended in many travel books / guides. Now here is the million dollar question, if it requires weeks in advance booking, exactly when did the many tourists presence on this particular evening book their table? (did the guide book placed on their tables recommended them to book before they departure from their homeland?) hummm ... I should have asked ...

Based on the decor, I suspected that it remained pretty much the same over the last 2 (or 3) decades. We arrived around 8:30pm and it was full house with staff rushing back and forth. Dinner this evening was in celebration of my friend's birthday and he did most of the ordering as well so I was there to enjoy. Worth noting that most of the dishes come in 3 different sizes, Small - Med - Large. As mentioned in my SML post, the idea of offering different dish size was nothing new, it was there long before I was even born.

The first dish to arrive was the Saute Sliced Mutton with Spring Onion. It looked quite plain and unexciting but the flavors were rich and I ordered some rice immediately!

Saute Pig's Windpipe with Coriander was the next dish. Windpipe? Yes, this was the first time I tried it and I love it! The texture was chewy yet bouncy, toothy and carry a certain "bite" to it. Again I am in lost of words when describing the texture of "" in Chinese. Anyhow, with the strong flavors of coriander, the dish was quite a refreshing starter.

Of course we ordered the Peking Duck and here they offer Peking Duck - 3 Ways! The first was the traditional way of sliced skin with Chinese pancakes. It was fun watching the chef preparing our Peking duck!

The duck slices here included quite a large portion of meat and the duck was quite fatty as you can see from the fatty layer in between. It was alright, the skin was not overly crisp as expected but the meat was quite tender indeed. Flavor was fair but no surprises.

As mentioned before in my Dong Lai Shun post, one of the key factors for a good Peking duck (at least in my own opinion) is the pancake. There are quite a few style of pancakes and the one being offered here was the really thick one which I am not a big fan of. So thick that I thought I was having a pita wrap!

The Peking Duck 2nd dish was the common Lettuce Wrap with Minced Duck. Why did I focus on the lettuce? Because I was too lazy to move the dishes around for the picture. It was alright, no surprises to be honest.

The Peking Duck 3rd dish was the surprising dish or should I say soup. The remaining duck was chopped into pieces to make this soup. Not that there were much duck flavor to the soup but it was quite comforting to drink.

The simple pea sprouts in broth dish was good, not overly salty like many would prepare them.

Sizzling Shad was something new to me as well. Shad is a very rare breed apparently and is considered a delicacy in many of the coastal cities in China. One of the unique characteristics of the Shad is ....

... believe it or not, their bones and the sheer amount of them!! Every part of the Shad consisted this trident like bones and one had to be VERY careful when eating it. Did I mention there were just so many bones everywhere??? Flavor wise it was great, the sauce carried hints of acidity and went really well with the tender meat as well. Once again, be very careful!

Something I need to mention at this point: (1) The pacing of the dishes were quite ... fast, many dishes arrived at once and the whole table was full of food that we are rushing to finish! (2) When getting the bill, the server announced the amount of the receipt out loud as he approaches the table ... I really dislike this approach but have to take into account that it is one of the common practices of old-school restos in Hong Kong; but still, I hope they would change this habit.

Would I come back for their Peking duck? yes but only if I can book a table 3 days in advance. A 2 weeks advance booking for their Peking Duck might not worth the wait especially when I often have sudden cravings for Peking Duck.

  • Saute Pig's Windpipe with Coriander - love the bouncy, toothy texture!
  • Sizzling Shad - while it consisted of way too many trident like bones, the sauce was delicious with the meat.
  • Pacing of dishes were quite ... fast
  • Chinese pancakes for Peking Duck was too thick!
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person

Spring Deer 鹿鳴春飯店
1/F, 42 Mody Road, TST
2366 4012

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Andrew said...

Hey Jason

I'm really enjoying reading your blog. Lot's of detailed content and interesting reviews; keep up the excellent work.

I agree with your comments about Spring Deer. When I recently went I found it pretty good, but couldn't believe that I had to wait three weeks to get a booking. The two times I tried to go there I couldn't even get a table. The prices are pretty good, but this places massive popularity does amaze me.


Jin said...

I can't believe I was in HK for 3 years and didn't step foot in this Peking duck institution! When I plan my next HK trip, I'll make sure to let you know 3 weeks in advance! Hehehe! :)

cheeky angel said...

I can't believe this place has gotten so super busy since my visit a couple of years ago, where we didn't have to book that far in advance. Those pancakes for the duck weren't really that thick either so, not sure what has happened since then.

Jason or anyone other kind readers here: do you have any good recommendations for Peking duck in HK, which won't cost an absolute fortune and where there isn't a 2 week wait? Sometimes a girl just craves some Peking duck.

Jason said...

@Andrew: I still cannot believe there is a 2 weeks advance book for this place especially if you are coming during the weekend (perhaps 3??) ... it is a nice old-school resto but whether it is worth the wait is truly questionable. I will try to come again without booking and try my luck ... I will hold a travel guide and pretend I am a tourist and see if it makes any difference! HAHA

@Jin: please let me know 4 weeks in advance just in case HAHA ... or as I mentioned to Andrew, we can both hold a travel guide in our hands and pretend to be tourists. For some reasons, I think it does make a difference HAHA ...

@Cheeky angel: My search for Peking duck continues :) ... I am never tired of Peking Duck and I certainly am not in the mood to wait for weeks to get my Peking Duck when I want one :)


Its strange in a way! From what I heard, almost all Peking Ducks in Hong Kong are 'digitally' grilled lol! No specialty wood or charcoal. Besides that important, the marination in the duck itself is very important - I have rarely had Peking Duck's meat which were rich in flavouring layers, due to judicial and balanced usage of internal stuffings or slight marination!

We should try making Peking Duck 1 day at home on the rotisserie, if it fits hahaha! Otherwise - find me a great quality Peking Duck pleaseeeeeee.... SOOON! :D

TasteHongKong said...

It was house full 1-2 days before the Winter Festival even we booked our table (a big one) 3 weeks in advance, just to share.

Anonymous said...

Would you call the pork windpipe as "crunchy"?

Jason said...

@Anonymous: yes I would call it crunchy or perhaps firm-to-the-bite kind of crunchy or chilled fresh lettuce kind of crisp.

CJ said...

My comment comes a bit late, as I only discovered your blog a few months ago. And I go through your older posts when I miss HK food. We were in HK just after Chinese New Year this year, and managed to walk in and get a table at Spring Deer. No reservations, and at the height of dinner hour. The place was packed. Perhaps it was because we so obviously looked like tourists?

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