Plum Tree Inn

Best Peking Duck, August 2009

Chinatown’s Plum Tree Inn, which eschews basics like chopsticks, hardly seems like the destination for stellar Peking duck. The classic dish—in which hoisin sauce is the base and the roasted meat is just an appendage to the prized brittle and lacquered skin—requires several steps to be brought to perfection. This cavernous restaurant, recently relocated, has mastered them. Peking duck must be ordered at least one hour in advance (what you get in places that serve it immediately is fried duck), but things speed up when two servers present it tableside. In the blur of their actions you understand that each ingredient of this preparation heightens another. The bright herbal spring onion spears compound the meatiness of the duck; the yielding steamed bun amplifies the wonder of the crisp skin.