Just in case you, like I, wondered where the "Forest" in Peking Duck Forest came from, it's short for Forest Hills, the town in which the restaurant is situated. In this era and in this locale, where restaurants come and go, Peking Duck has prospered for 13 years.
The space is small and has the basic retro look of the small Chinese restaurant of yore. Its singular 21st century addition is a chrome, duplex seafood tank with lobsters on the top floor, crabs below.
The draw here for me is the special Peking Duck Dinner, which is also served for lunch for a minimum of two people. And the more ordering, the merrier the menu. (For two or three people, one-half Peking Duck plus one or two entrees. For four, five or six people, one whole Peking Duck plus two, three or four entrees).
Mr. Li, the China-born chef, went back to study its preparation when we were there. And the results were - good eating. While waiting for the first course, we sipped mango daiquiris. It was wonderfully refreshing. The banana melon colada, honeydew green, was intriguing.
And now our Peking Duck dinner for two (and all for $15.50 per person).
There was a choice of egg drop, wonton, hot and sour or house duck soup for two. House duck soup it was and there were chunks of cduck in a semi-clear broth with strands of thin rice noodles, a soup I'd not had before. The serving was most generous and the fresh ginger added flair.
An appetizer plate appeared with barbecued beef, a strip of beef strung on a skewer. It was amazingly tender and delicious. Two, large, pork-filled steamed dumplings were equally succulent. Sesame-seeded shrimp toast was nicely done but the spring roll with a delicious filling was greasy.
A side table was then placed beside us with a tray of sliced duck meat, pieces of crisp, amber skin, a plate of cucumber and celery sticks and scallions slivered lengthwise, hosin sauce and a steamer basket with a stack of wafer-thin pancakes. Our server expertly placed the duck and crisp, golden-brown skin on a pancake, slathered on the sauce and topped it with cucumber, celery and scallions before folding in the prescribed bottom turned up, then sides turned in. Six were prepared this way. We eagerly bit into it and the flavors of the duck, the skin, the sauce, and the scallion exploded in our mouth. We were transported to Peking Duck heaven.
What followed was 12 choices, one sounding more luscious than the other: diced chicken with walnuts in brown sauce; crispy green beans with minced pork or fresh vegetables so crisp and crunchy. Prawns in hot spicy sauce and pork with black bean sauce, sauteed beef with broccoli or snow peas.
We were most pleased with our selection of fresh scallops in garlic sauce. They were a perfect foil for the Peking duck and excellent in their own right - spicy but not too spicy. Brown rice complemented it.
Oranges concluded our meal. We noted with approval that there were a number of desserts: taro and sago rice in coconut juice, fried bananas with walnuts, lichees and homemade almond bean curd. Now that Chinese restaurants have reached another plateau of sophistication, desserts like these should be offered as the meal's sweet conclusion for the American palate. Some day we'll graduate to ending our meals with soup as they do at Chinese banquets.
Other ducky items on the menu were wor shu duck, crispy-fried duck, lemon and lichee duck (a breaded pressed duck with lemon and lichee sauce) and sauteed duck meat with hosin sauce.
The inhabitants of the duplex tank, lobsters and crabs, were featured in king crab Hong Kong style with fresh Canadian king crab stir-fried with X.O. meat sauce; fresh crab in the shell sauteed with ginger and scallions; lobster, American style in shell.
There are specials each day and the eggplant sauteed and stuffed with prawns is one example. A thick slice of eggplant is slit, then a prawn is inserted and it's sauteed and served with black bean sauce.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Chinese, featuring special Peking Duck Dinner (for two minimum) at $15.50 per person. Basic Chinese restaurant.
Steamed or Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (6)$3.95
Barbecued Spareribs (6/12)$6.50/$11.95
King Crab Hong Kong Style (fresh Canadian king crab, stir-fried with delicious X.O. sauce) $18.95
Fresh Crabmeat and Jumbo Shrimp with Chinese Greens $14.50
Peking Duck Dinner (minimum of two) per person $15.50
Fried Banana with Walnut $2.95
Food: Chinese featuring Peking Duck dinner
Setting: Basic Chinese
Service: Very nice
Hours: Lunch and Dinner 7 days
Parking: Free ($25 minimum)
Location: Between Queens Blvd. and Austin St.
Credit cards: All major except Discover
Noise: Quiet. Chinese music
Private parties: To 100
Handicap accessible: Yes
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