Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sang Kee Peking Duck House : Philadelphia

**Edit Sept 8, 2009** - Appending Roasted duck w/ plum sauce, Beef pan fried wide noodles
**Edit Jul 3, 2009** - Appending the experience of eating Peking Duck.

Sang Kee Duck House is one of those places that is always mentioned in the Chowhound threads for places to try in Phili Chinatown, particularly recommended for their Peking Duck. And yet it was of those places, that I never ever seemed to get around to trying. Anyways, in order to make a Philadelphia Chinese restaurant triumvirate on my blog this week, I thought it was time to rectify that.

Dining by my lonesome, I thought it was probably a little decadent to spring for the Peking duck.

And looking at their dessert/drink specials and taking into account how hot I was from walking outside, I briefly considered this rather endearingly bastardized banana boat ice cream sundae. (fyi, the triangles in the picture are cut up wafer cookies)

But I ended up going for the standard Roasted Duck and Wonton Noodle.

Or at least, what I thought would be a somewhat standard rendition.

It turned out to be quite smile-inducing.

Holy smokes. (And I'll try to refrain from sounding too much like one of those kids discovering Led Zeppelin in high school.)

Their duck is of course quite good. I'm not sure if it's noticeable from the photo or not, but it seemed that they tried to place their duck pieces on top of everything else, I'm guessing so that that the skin won't lose its crispness and the meat won't take on too much broth. Bonus points for whoever was responsible for that nice touch.

It's been a long time since I've had roast duck with a crispness to the skin and the marvelous juicy and rich duck-forward flavor in the meat.

The wontons, however, weren't to be scoffed at either. They were a balanced mix of pork and shrimp and not only did they taste fairly fresh, but they were flavorful as well.

The noodles were solid and nothing to complain about.

Just about the only slight hesitation I had was with the broth. I liked the broth much better than the more artificial tasting msg/bouillon cube heavy brothes at most places. For one it was much lighter. The immediate taste was one of water not of the artificial broth. Secondly, there was some interesting flavoring. Is that white pepper I taste? Lastly, the back end of the flavor did have some evidence that there was some home-made stock there.

But it was unclear to me whether it was all home-made stock. There was something about the roundness to the taste that made me hesitate in polishing off the broth completely.

Others on Chowhound have also noted that the broth at Sangkee's leaves a little to be desired, albeit for slightly different reasons (too bland).

But man oh man, thinking about the noodle soup and how the broth could be slightly improved to create that perfect roasted duck, wonton noodle soup reminded me of being a kid again and imagining what-if scenarios with your sporting idols and teams.

Anyways, I'll be back to this place again, to enjoy more of their duck and wontons. Haha, and maybe even that banana boat sundae.

**Edit Jul 3, 2009**
Went less than a week later with my gf and ordered the wonton soup and the Peking Duck for 2. While it was decent, I think I'll probably keep to ordering the duck/wonton noodle soup next time.

Wonton soup - Like the Wonton soup last time, sans noodles and duck. We enjoyed the decent light broth and nicely done wontons.

Peking Duck - Duck was solid as before. The pancakes a bit on the powdery side, but the juicy duck was enough to compensate for this. I must say that it was a little odd to be eating Peking duck in such a casual environment. I'm used to having this only in banquets and formal occasions.

Fried Rice, Stir Fried duck - I know this is the secondary left-over duck dish, but if it was weird eating the peking duck in such a casual place, it was odd to be eating these uber casual follow-up dishes. It was nothing particularly special, like any other dish you'd expect at a casual noodle shop. But it just seems particularly disappointing after Peking duck of all things.

Edit Sept 8, 2009 Again, I'd stick with the soup noodles. Can't go wrong with those babies.  The roasted duck & wonton noodle soup is still a must-get, but I tried a couple of dishes that were quite solid as well.

Beef & vegetable pan fried wide noodles 菜远牛河 -  Yum.  Slightly oily fried noodles, covered in a tasty sauce.  Tender (probably marinated) beef.  Stalks of vegetables, carrot slices, straw mushrooms, yellow bean sprouts.  This is like fast-food type dishes my parents used to order for day-trips when I was a kid (beef chow fun).  Wonderfully executed, this could be up there as another favorite.

Roasted duck with garlic, plum sauce - A somewhat peculiar combo (like something I'd try at home), but rather well done.  Sauce is slightly sweet, slightly tangy, sort of like the preserved dried Chinese plums.  I suppose anyone familiar with Americanized Chinese places already knows that sweet sauces go well with duck, but this isn't an American sauce, rather more in line with Chinese flavors.

Sang Kee Peking Duck House
238 N 9th St Philadelphia, PA 19107-1822 (Map)
(215) 922-3930‎
($Chinese, $Philadelphia, $Recommended)


  1. Yay! This place is about my (and everyone elses) go-to wonton noodle soup spot. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I'm glad I finally got a chance to try this place, although I do feel like I'm the last person in the know :P

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