When mentioning roasted duck, the first thing that everyone would think of is the famous Peking roasted duck. It is thought that the dish has similarities to the traditional American roasted turkey and the roasted goose in Europe served on festive occasions. Roasted duck’s history goes back as far as the Northern and Southern Dynasties around the 4th and 5th centuries. During the Song Dynasty, ducks were roasted around the city of Jinling, now Nanjing. The Yuan Dynasty later moved their capital city to Beijing around the 13th century, bringing their cuisine thus popularising it and making this dish a specialty.
Roasted duck became a delicacy on the imperial menu and was highly regarded by emperors and other members of the ruling classes. The white Beijing duck was a special breed used during this period.
The ducks were originally roasted in a conventional oven (cooking food by surrounding it with hot air) before the new method was introduced by hanging or suspending the duck over the flame in an open oven. Both methods are used today as the two major roasted duck preparations.
Roasted duck in Vietnam is referred to as vit quay. Vit (duck) quay (to roast). Vit quay is probably one of the most popular takeout items, especially for celebrations and holidays. Occasions such as ancestral worship, kowtow and death anniversaries.
These special events can span from weddings, holidays, family gatherings or just about anything else. Roasted duck is known for its thin, crispy skin and tender meat texture. Traditionally carved in front of diners and served with spring onions, cucumber, wrapped in steamed pancakes and dipped in sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce.
In Vietnam, roasted ducks are still being served traditionally in high-end Chinese and BBQ restaurants. However, the most popular and common way to serve it here especially in Saigon is with fresh banh mi (Vietnamese baguette), thick sliced cucumber spears, fresh chili and plenty of duck dipping sauce. This is one dish that does not require any flatware of any sort except maybe a pair of chopsticks, an appetite, cold beer and of course a few friends.
This dish has always brought fond memories for me. I used to go camping all year round back home in California and a buddy happened to bring a tray of roasted duck to camp.
We ended up sitting around a ring of fire late in the evening gnawing on roasted duck (re-heated of course) with baguettes, cold drinks and sharing amazing memories. It was a classic time. Roasted duck ia usually found hanging in food stall windows and carts along with roasted pig throughout the city. Aside from shellfish and hot pot, roasted duck is what I consider to always be a definite crowd pleaser.
I have tried many dine-in and takeaway roasted duck places throughout the city. Dine-in places such as Li Bai Chinese Restaurant in the Sheraton hotel on Dong Du Street and Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant in the Legend Saigon Hotel on Ton Duc Thang Street (both in District 1) are a must try. Despite numerous roasted duck places throughout the city, there is one stand out takeaway location you should definitely visit.
Vit Quay 2 Chi Em
257 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, District 1, HCMC
Open from 3pm to 9pm
There are three roasted duck stalls here, but always choose the middle one. This is the original and they open at 3pm. Their classic roasting and marinating style is what sets them apart from the others, but also try their classic roasted pig and roasted chicken which I will save for another article.