Duck King, The (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Central Park Podomoro City
1st Floor, Unit 116
Jl. Let. Jend. S ParmanKav. 28
Jakarta, Indonesia
+62 21 5698 5620
www.theduckking.com

I’ve often said in the past that I don’t come across too many decent Chinese restaurants in Indonesia. That said, the Duck King franchise serve up some not-too-terrible Peking duck and yum cha dishes and I was glad to have tried it one Sunday afternoon after church.

Even though I’ve only just heard of Duck King, they’ve actually been around for 10 years. Starting off in Jakarta, they eventually regurgitated several ducklings in cities such as Bandung (represent!) and Surabaya. I can see why this chain is popular; not only do they cater to Indonesia’s large Muslim population by going pork-free, they also whip up some decent dishes.

My uncle Charlie tried to make a last minute booking one Sunday afternoon, only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked. But when the person on the phone realised that it was regular diner Charlie on the line, a private room suddenly became available. And that is how 14 members of my family ended up sitting on a large table overlooking the brightly-lit Central Park shopping centre.

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I love how yum cha restaurants in Jakarta start you off with the most random nibbles. We enjoyed fried anchovies at May Star, for example, and sambal (chilli) beans here at Duck King.

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We started off with some delicious fried prawn wontons. The waitress was kind enough to cut them into little pieces so we can all have a nibble. I suppose the non-tight arse thing to do was to order more servings but c’mon, we’re talking about my family here…

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Duck King’s dim sum dishes range from Rp. 18,800 to Rp. 31,800 (AUD$1.88-$3.18), making them reasonably priced. We started off with the classics: chicken feet, ginger prawn wontons and fried taro dumplings.

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Then came the siu mai. The ones here are made with chicken and shrimp, in accordance with the restaurant’s ‘no pork’ rule. They weren’t bad, but I really do think that siu mai tastes a lot better with pork.

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The lo mai gai (sticky rice) is mum’s favourite yum cha dish and Duck King did a commendable version. They came in pretty small parcels here, which is good if all you wanted was a nibble.

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I couldn’t say good things about the xiaolongbao (pork soup) dumplings, though. Filled with chicken mince (but no broth!), they didn’t quite taste as amazing as the pork version did and the skins were gluggy.  I also found them a bit too sweet for my liking.

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The fish congee was alright, though a bit more ginger would have transformed the dish from okay to pretty, pretty good.

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Char kway teow… hmm, not what you’d usually find at a yum cha restaurant (then again, what was a duck restaurant doing serving yum cha anyway?!) but these were lovely. There were lots of noodles! There was wok hei! And there were lots and lots of shrimp.

Duck King, as its name suggests, do a wonderful assortment of duck dishes. Their menu boasted Teow Chew-style duck and Nanjing salted duck and deep fried duck, all tantalising options. Because we’re boring though, we stuck to the Peking duck. I can’t remember how many ducks we ordered but because my family aren’t big duck eaters and because we had a bunch of other dishes to devour, I think two ducks sounded about right. Each duck is Rp. 278,000 (AUD$27.80) which makes it on par with Peking duck in Melbourne (essentially, this means that Peking duck in Indonesia is relatively expensive).

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The Peking duck was nice enough, but it didn’t exactly blow me away. While the meat/skin/fat ratio was spot on (though some of the females in my family did say that there was a bit too much fat), the skin was a tad too sweet – that alone kind of spoilt it for me.

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My brother doesn’t like yum cha dishes very much. So whenever he’s around, we always order some sort of beef dish from the a la carte menu. On this day, we ordered the honey peppered beef which he lapped up happily, while the Chinese greens provided some much-needed vitamins.

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Surprisingly, our har gow (prawn dumplings) arrived pretty late. The skins were on the soggy side and they were pretty small, but we ate them anyway.

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My brother also wanted sweet and sour fish. In Indonesia, gurame (a native white fish) is popular in Chinese restaurants. Due to the floods, however, the region’s gurame stock was pretty low so we had to make do with flounder. It’s not my favourite fish, especially when it’s being served with a heavy sauce like this, but everyone else seemed to like it.

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Our final dish was the zhaliang, or char liong, as they called it here (fried Chinese dough sticks wrapped in steamed rice noodle rolls, FYI). The zhaliang at Duck King was a steal at Rp. 21,800 (AUD$2.18), a fraction of what we normally pay in Australia. Unfortunately, Duck King did a terrible version. Like May Star’s zhaliang, the dough sticks at Duck King were fried in old coconut oil, giving them a nasty aftertaste. And what, no Chinese greens on the bottom?!

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Oh, and our egg custard tarts were burnt. WTF was with that?!

In saying all that, we all had a lovely relaxing time at Duck King. Some of the dishes may not have done it for us but hearing stories of cousin Boris passing out after drinking way too much tequila and my Oma thinking that he had died more than made up for it. Duck King’s Peking duck may not be as delicious as the ‘other’ duck king Simon Lay’s Peking duck. You’re also better off finding better yum cha offerings in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. But if you’re in Jakarta and craving duck or prawn dumplings, Duck King would probably be the first place I’d tell you to go to.

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5 Comments

  1. I would definitely not go there for dessert but it does look a treat for Jakarta’s duck lovers 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Sometimes it is all about the company (and the tequila drinking stories), not the food. 🙂
    I just booked Simon’s for my end of season tennis dinner…mmmmmmmmmmmmm…duck…..

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