Not Peking Duck at Food Talk Cafe (食神) in Fremont
News of a place in Fremont that offers the famous Peking Duck (北京烤鴉) dish made its way to me and I was excited to hear about it. If a Peking Duck place exists in Fremont, that means I don’t have to drive up from the south bay to Berkeley’s Great China for Peking Duck. But I wondered why I have not heard of this place even after it’s been open for over a year now. The reason becomes obvious later.
The menu here consists of a lot of items claimed to be Taiwanese-style. However, a lot of the rest of items screams Cantonese. Hmm, so is it Taiwanese or Cantonese? Probably the owners or chefs are made up by both, hence the variety and mixture of the two cuisines. But the signature dish here is supposedly the Peking Duck.
I ordered the signature “Peking Duck” dish. There are two Peking Duck dishes here. The one to get is the $25 one on the first page under Chef Special called Roasted Peking Duck wrapped with Mandarin Pancakes (北京片皮鴉). There’s another Peking Duck appetizer elsewhere on the menu, but that is just regular duck with skin on. (Woops, could it be just regular Cantonese duck?)
The duck arrived and right away something is not right. The size is on the small side. Once the skin is moved aside, one can see that the duck meat are arranged suspiciously like a regular old Cantonese roasted duck. And even worse, the meat is still on the bones. This is definitely NOT Peking Duck. Peking Duck is supposed to have all the skins roasted crispy and all the fat rendered off (or at least removed) of them and the meat removed off of the bones. There’s no bones in Peking Duck just like there’s no crying in baseball!
Not to mention the “Mandarin” pancakes – this is Cantonese buns used with Cantonese roast ducks. Or at best it can pass as the Taiwanese buns used in the Gua Bao (roasted pork belly bun) dish. Peking Duck pancakes are supposed to be flat, like those at Great China. At least if it’s not flat, call it “Mandarin Buns” and not “Mandarin Pancakes”.
Forgetting about these disappointments and just eating it for what it is – Cantonese roasted duck – was not too bad. The meat was tender (at least the ones that came off the bone easily) and a few pieces were juicy. But like a lot of bad ducks, some pieces were tough to chew. The skin, for the most par was sort of crispy. However, there was way too much fat under some of the skin pieces.
I have nothing against Cantonese roasted ducks. In fact, I probably eat that more often than Peking Duck as it is more accessible. However, to completely rip off the name of a more “prestigious” and famous dish just to attract customers is just plain wrong. Food Talk Cafe sells Cantonese roasted duck (with some fat removed) and that’s that. It is NOT Peking Duck and should not be called Peking Duck. It is as if you go to a steakhouse expecting Filet Mignon and you’re served hamburgers. This is false advertising at its worst.
Now that I got that off of my chest, I can give it a grade. As a Peking Duck dish: C-. As a Cantonese roasted duck: B.
So for now, to get the real Peking Duck, I still have to drive to Berkeley to Great China.
Food Talk Cafe (食神)
43755 Boscell Rd
Fremont, CA 94538