Classic Tables: Shanghai Terrace

The best place for a Peking duck feast

The essential components of great Peking duck are crisp skin, supple meat and time.

At Shanghai Terrace, The Peninsula hotel's Chinese restaurant, which turns 10 this month, nearly 20 hours elapse between the initial preparation of the duck and when the roasted, brown-skinned bird is finally sliced.

Offered à la carte ($64 for a full platter, $32 for a half) or as part of a traditional multicourse menu (click here to download), it's one of the restaurant's standouts–one that draws us to the casually elegant dining room every few months.

A Long Island duck is filled with a darkly aromatic combination of over 20 ingredients, including star anise, cinnamon, Shaoxing wine and fermented bean curd. It's then basted with vinegar, sugar and soy sauce and hung to infuse and dry for between 14 hours and two days.

The bird hangs upright in the oven, too, rendering all but a soft, thin layer of fat flanked by crackling skin and tender meat. Wrap a slice in a thin pancake, top with scallions and cucumber, dot with hoisin and be transported.

Chef Ivan Yuen first made Peking duck as a culinary school graduate in China; he claims the duck he can get in America is better-suited, and more flavorful, than much of what he worked with there.

All the more reason to order a platter.

Shanghai Terrace, The Peninsula, 108 E. Superior St.; 312-573-6744 or peninsula.com