When it comes to Chinese food in the Triangle, it can be a bit hard! Given I grew up on the cuisine and have been eating Chinese food since I was a young lad, my expectations are relatively high for what I consider to be a “mother cuisine”. And to be honest with you, it’s pretty hard to find decent Chinese food in the Triangle outside of a handful of options. So color me surprised when I heard about a new spot on Hillsborough Street called Peking Duck and Dumplings. Online mentions of this new restaurant had me guessing that it was a real deal, Chinese hole in the wall type eatery, probably started to feed the student population studying from overseas. And after a couple of visits to the new Peking Duck and Dumplings, I can say that the initial guess I had was pretty close to the truth…
First of all, if you live in the area, you know how busy Hillsborough Street can be for construction. New buildings, new traffic circles, Peking Duck and Dumplings location near Dixie Trail Road is particularly bad for traffic and parking. I’d recommend side-street parking on the northern side of Hillsborough outside of a few lucky spots you may find on the street. So you’ll need some patience before you even get into Peking Duck and Dumplings. Its location at 2811 Hillsborough Street used to be Pho Vietnam and there are a couple of parking spots in back.
Peking Duck and Dumplings would be best qualified as a simple cafe set-up with white tile floors and a handful of 4-tops scattered about. The light and bright space is very utilitarian and speaks to the food that is served here. Both the staff and customers are primarily Asian and Chinese but in my mind, that just means more authentic eats! Be aware that the staff may have limited English skills so it may be tough to get detailed descriptions of menu items, I’d suggest checking out the menu beforehand. And also be aware that they do not have Peking duck (just plain roasted duck) on the menu, the food here is primarily Taiwanese and N. Chinese.
Given all these hurdles, I can also say that Peking Duck and Dumplings is totally worth the effort, still. The menu ranges from noodle soups to rice plates and more. All under $14 so very reasonable prices for authentic Chinese eats. There’s also a specials whiteboard up front so don’t miss what they’re offering here. I’d recommend starting off with some nice pan-fried pork dumplings. These bad-boys are steamed and then crisped up (pan-fried) underneath giving you a soft and crispy contrast when you bite in. The tender pork filling is nicely done for a good ratio of bao to meat.
Probably my favorite dish at Peking Duck and Dumplings is the scallion pancakes with beef! While you may have tried scallion pancakes before this preparation is a bit different, adding in thinly sliced beef shank (with a hint of five spice) and layered with hoisin sauce! It’s like a Chinese sandwich with a crispy outside, tender and savory inside and a hint of sweet from the sauce, very tasty and totally authentic.
Another classic dish that’s really good if you’re not used to more authentic Chinese eats is the roast duck and roast pork plate. Just a serving of rice with sweet and tender duck along with slices of the familiar red glazed, roast pork make for a great meal. The duck can be a bit fatty so baby bok choy is presented on the side as your veggie and green for the dish.
The noodle dishes here at Peking Duck and Dumplings are also super authentic. Long noodles in a beef broth with beef shank and/or tendon. The tendon is slow-braised for a soft and sticky, unctuous texture making for a heart-warming dish. Again, not for everyone but if you’re so inclined, you’ll love it. Service at Peking Duck and Dumplings is personable and efficient but again, the staff may have limited English. Given the primarily Asian clientele here, it’s usually not an issue but be aware! So thank you to Peking Duck and Dumplings for bringing super tasty and authentic Chinese food to downtown Raleigh. You’re a rare little find and I hope you do well in this difficult location. But I promise that I will be back soon to try more off that delicious menu…