If you're a traditional Peking duck pancake fan, who prefers maximum skin and and minimum meat, then best not order the roast duck wraps at this Darlinghurst classic. However, if you're keen for a juicy bit of breast with a crisp shard of skin then pull up one of Diddy Kong's barrels and go for your life.
It is very delicious duck. Each slice of breast is thick and fleshy and about the size of a large thumb. In another snub to tradition, Fu Manchu serves sliced fresh chilli with the traditional spring onion and cucumber fixings. The chilli works well with the thin, plummy, secret sauce. Wrap everything tightly and put tradition aside.
229 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, (02) 9360 9424
Good Luck Chinese Restaurant
This bloke is serious about his duck. You'll need to call up and place a Peking duck order 75 minutes in advance. If you're not there at the time you're instructed, the duck will be sliced and served regardless and it might be given to another table. I repeat, this bloke is serious about his duck.
All this makes a visit to Good Luck sound a lot more stressful than it actually is as the staff are gracious, friendly hosts.
There's minimum spice on the bird here, letting the duck's natural flavours shine. It's served with its head on the plate and Duckman has been kind enough to split the skull so you can eat the brains and other assorted grey matter if that's your bag.
Very important tip: the pancakes are stuck together in twos and take a little effort to pull apart (do so slowly or risk tearing a hole).
182 Liverpool Road, Enfield, (02) 9747 4625
A colleague once noted that although you might be able to get better dumplings, roast meats, and noodles elsewhere in Sydney, there's nowhere the quality of every dish is so high right across the menu.
Chef Dan Hong's ducks hang in a striking display cabinet and sell out daily. The skin packs a big hit of star anise and cassia bark and demands a bottle of pinot noir from Wong's outstanding wine list. Duck and pinot is and always will be the one of the classic pairings; up there with caviar and champagne, and beer and Smith's Salt and Vinegar chips.
Wong's pancakes are the best of the bunch, by the way – pliable yet firm and able to take ladles of hoisin without losing their form.
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney, (02) 9240 3000
Golden Century Seafood Restaurant
The theatre and care that goes into creating each of pancakes at GC is a wonderful thing. The duck is served on a bed of prawn crackers and the waiter prepares the pancakes tableside. Silent and focused, he lays each pancake out individually, and swirls on (a lot) of duck sauce with a swift hand movement before placing down thick batons of spring onion. A shroud of duck skin is then laid across the pancake with every bit ofas much theatre as James Brown's band members draping a cape across Soul Brother Number One's shoulders. An essential Sydney experience.
393-399 Sussex Street, Sydney, (02) 9281 1598
East Phoenix Chinese Restaurant
Zetland's East Village shopping centre is home to the newest arm of the Phoenix restaurant empire. It is an intimidatingly large place with lots of shiny black surfaces and feels alike an audio-visual display room at Harvey Norman in the early '90s.
You get four Peking duck pancakes in an entree course and they come pre-folded, meaning you have to lift a flap up on each if you want to see what kind of business is going on underneath. Annoying. The business is a meaty puck of duck with dark, treacly skin. You can actually make a fun almost-dumpling by wrapping the thin and floppy pancake around the bird and scoffing it all in one bite.
3/2A Defries Avenue, Zetland, (02) 9662 2088