Rating: ★★★☆☆

Address: 1/F, 42 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀麼地道42號1樓

Telephone: 2366 4012 / 2366 5839

Peking Duck is a type of oven-roasted duck from Northern China, known for its thin, crispy skin which is an utter delight. Craving some Peking Duck, I went to Spring Deer Restaurant, one of the most famous Pekingese restaurants in Hong Kong, in with a large group of friends. Situated on the first floor of a nondescript building near the P3 Exit of Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, Spring Deer Restaurant is a long-standing eatery opened in the 1970s which offers one of the best Peking Ducks in town, and is popular with locals and tourists alike. The brightly-lit, down-to-earth Chinese decor is reflective of the no-frills cuisine served at this restaurant. Some of the well-drilled staff seemed like they have worked at this place for years: even though not the most attentive or deferential, the waiters were all friendly in a genuine way, and were very happy to offer food advice.

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Most items on the menu come in three sizes, “Small“, “Medium” and “Large“, which is great for small parties who wish to try more of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Except for the Peking Duck which was incredibly tasty, the rest of the Northern Chinese cuisine was only mediocre and the ingredients were not pristine.  However, considering that our feast only racked up a bill of $130 per head, perhaps all could be forgiven.

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(1) We started off with the Fried Shredded Pork with Soya Bean Pasty Sauce ($78), which was a sweet, appetising dish with a dressing that reminded us of sweet and sour pork.
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(2) The Sautéed Fresh-Water Shrimps without Shells (small, $90) followed, but I was not the biggest fan as the shrimps were soft and limp, and were not firm and springy like I had hoped.

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(3) The Fried Shredded Beef with Chilli Sauce (dry) ($88) was moreish. Cooked in a bright red sauce which was seemingly very spicy but turned out to be sweet, the beef was terrifically crunchy and we couldn’t stop eating it!

(4) We put some of the shredded pork and beef into a Sesame Cake ($6 each) – the refreshing taste of sesame was a fantastic match with the meats!

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(5) The Barbequed Peking Duck ($300) was definitely the highlight of our meal! The duck was brought out on a trolley and carved right in front of us. Each slice comprised a layer of skin and some meat underneath, and the roasted skin was sublime! For me, the layer (or lump) of fat underneath the skin was a bit much, but I could imagine that some people would find it perfectly indulgent.

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What impressed me the most was how wonderfully moist the duck meat was. I have had Peking Ducks at a few other renowned restaurants, and the lean duck meat would often be a b8it dry after roasting, but here at Spring Deer, it was succulent, juicy and flavour-packed!

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Traditionally, the skin would be eaten on its own, while the meat would be wrapped up in steamed pancakes, but it is becoming increasingly common for the skin and meat to be wrapped together. A sweet garlic sauce, some spring onions and some cucumber were provided, and these formed a magnificent symphony of flavours. It was simply heaven for carnivores or duck-lovers!

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The steamed pancake wrappers were thick, smooth and floury in a good way, and were totally complementary with duck.

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(6) We ordered some Steamed vegetarian dumplings ($55), which had a soft, juicy filling of vegetables and rice vermicelli, and they were a delightful break from the tangy dishes at our meal.

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(7) The Steamed ham and Tientsin Cabbage (small, $70) was overcooked and the vegetables lost their crunch.

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(8) Moving on to the desserts, we ordered a portion of Fried Glutinous Rice Cakes ($8 each). The rice balls were utterly decadent – golden brown on the surface, the glutinous rice had a chewy, stretchy texture and the centre was filled with a smooth red bean paste.

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(9) The Mashed Bean Pancake ($30) had a gorgeously crunchy outer layer and the red bean paste tasted delicious. It would have been even better if it was not so oily.

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(10) The Candied Apple (medium, $78) is a dessert very popular in China Towns all over the world. Fruits (such as banana, apples etc.) are coated in a hot syrup and are then immediately thrown into iced water so that the syrup crystallises into a hard, brittle shell. However, our candied apples had been slowly brought to our table, and by the time they were placed in the bowl of iced water the syrup coating was not hot anymore. This resulted in apples that were simply wrapped in a sweet, soggy film!

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Conclusion: This joint may not serve the finest Chinese cuisine or have the most gracious service, but the offerings were hearty and the duck was simply irresistible. It’s perfect for a group Peking Duck dinner on a budget!