Rule #1: Make a reservation! 6pm or 8pm? There are only two times for dinner, and if you wish to have an unrushed meal, or it’s a grand gathering of old-time friends, then do what I did, make an 8pm reservation.
I had passed by Roast Duck Inn on several occasions over the past year and noticed that it was always crowded. According to the food-dar, that’s a sure sign of a good place. When in doubt, go where the locals go! I have struggled with roast birds in Melbourne; most places don’t appeal to me as I find the meat simply roast cooked and lacking in appropriate marinade flavours or the meat simply feels like stringy cardboard fibres. Is Roast Duck Inn going to turn in a performance that would change my mind about the terrible state of roast poultry in Melbourne?
I am glad to report that yes indeedy, the duck here is excellent. It’s not cheap, at $40 a bird. But the quality of the duck is good, there isn’t an excessive layer of fat under the skin, a symptom that plagues most Chinatown joints. You’re not met with the bottom of the plate that is simply smeared with oil. The roasting is close to perfect, achieving a slight crip skin. And the meat retains its juiciness and texture without being too tough.
Also, so is their siew yoke, or roast pork belly for you ineffective food-bilinguitics out there. The thick crunchy skin is dry, not soaked with oil. Again, the quality of the pork is good as it isn’t too fat, just sufficient to provide an element of richness as you chomp through a piece. Again, not cheap at $16.80 a serve, but a portion that will keep 6 diners happy (let’s stay in moderation and not over-indulge on the good stuff eh?).
I saw several interesting specials involving octopus or squid, so I’ll definitely be back to try the rest of the dishes on offer. For this night, I ordered the scallops and braised tofu which was very generous with the amount of scallops in the dish (feeds 6 comfortably). The fried rice was also nicely done, each portion is good for 4 people.
Overall, Roast Duck Inn serves superior duck, and is one of the best restaurants situated outside the confines of Melbourne city. There is ample parking around, so there is no excuse not to check this place out. It’s not cheap as Chinatown chips, and doesn’t weigh into the stereotype of cheap chinese food. But that’s ‘coz it’s pretty darn good!