Last Friday night, we had a relatively pleasant revisit to my favorite peking duck restaurant-Simon's Peiking duck in Box hill South. Having been to the once beloved Old Kingdom and now the new Simon's Peiking duck several times, I can only say that many things have changed, but the quality of the duck is still the same-it is ever so tasty and crispy. Having a relatively large stomach capacity, I can always have more however having three other girls (one of them pregnant) with me meant that I can only be frugal in how many pieces of duck I can have. Nonetheless, we still managed to have 3-4 pieces of peking duck between the four of us.
For those of you who don't know, the duck at Simon's are served in three courses to fully utilise the whole duck. There are two options. For $55, you can have Peking duck with 12 pieces of crepes and spring onion, cucumber and plum sauce as accompaniment. This is followed by stir fried bean sprouts with duck and duck soup. The 2nd option for $63 includes the Peking duck with 15 pieces of crepes etc, choice of noodles and duck soup. We choose the former.
When we arrived, the restaurant was buzzing with activity and we were promptly hurried to our seats. We were served quickly but couldn't help but feel that the waiters and managers didn't really have time for us. I remember when we visited Old Kingdom or Simon's when they first opened and Simon, the duck Nazi would always come to each table for a chat as well as carving and showing us how to position and fold her Peking duck. With the success of this new restaurant, it has become less personal and special touches like that have now been omitted. The Peking duck as I had previously said was perfect and very delicious. The crepes was thin and delicate, a perfect accompaniment. Cucumbers were cucumbers. The plum sauce was nothing special. I'm not a fan of spring onion but even my friends said the spring onions were cut too "chunky" and hence too "spicy" to taste. The stir fried bean shoots with duck was pedestrian although I quite enjoyed the duck soup. I like the idea of utilizing the whole animal so there is minimal wastage.
We also had the Sambal Belacan with four seasonal vegetables which was very tasty however, I felt the serving size was very small.
As far as I know, there are two seating in the evenings at Simon's. The first ends promptly at 8pm where you are "politely" ask to vacate the table. The latter, I guess starts at 8pm and finishes late. We were part of the first seating. One thing that made our dinner less enjoyable was at the end when we were in the process of paying the bill. It was about 7:55pm and we were vacating the table by 8pm for the next seating. We had asked for the bill, and was waiting for it to be picked up with the cash in it when staff asked us to vacate the table for the next seating. When we pointed out that we were just waiting for the bill to be finalized, they insisted that we got up and to go to the front counter to pay for our bill as they had to set the table. Now, I understand the pressure they may be under to serve the waiting customers, but I don't think that offending the previous customers will help to bring continuing business to them. I'm not expecting a fine dining experience but I think customer service is fundamental to any hospitality business. Not that I'm saying I won't return again, but it certainly left an unpleasant taste after a relatively enjoyable dinner. Overall, go there for the Peking duck but don't expect the other dishes to be fantastic.