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Top 5: Peking Duck in Houston

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I'm one of those people who gets super-strong cravings for food. It can be a whiff, a smell, a dish that someone mentions, a feeling that I associate with the weather, or something I see through a restaurant window that causes the craving. In this instance, ever since I saw a Peking Duck carved table-side during a recent trip to Los Angeles, I haven't been able to stop craving it, and craving it led me to thinking: If I wanted Peking Duck in Houston, where would I go?

Years ago, there used to be a place on Bellaire Boulevard that would bring out the whole Peking Duck and carve it in front of you, but currently, I don't know of such a place. Still, that doesn't mean we don't have good Peking Duck in Houston. Here are the Top 5 places I would go to satisfy my cravings. And if your go-to place isn't listed, do share! I'm always on the lookout for great Peking Duck.

5. A Ly

There's a faction of people that say this is the best Peking Duck in the city. You get the whole duck and 10 sweet buns instead of pancakes. It's such a popular dish that on any given night, most of the tables will be eating the Peking Duck. The price is good ($24.30), and you'll only have to wait about 15 minutes before you get the whole duck delivered in all its glory to your table. If you want Peking Duck with the buns in a no-frills type restaurant, this is the place for you.

4. Shanghai Restaurant

I pretty much like just about everything that comes out of this family-run kitchen, the Peking Duck included. It comes with the buns, the skin is super crispy, and the sauce is great. But while I love the Peking Duck, I love the salt-toasted spareribs more. Order both, and you will be in glorious, tasty, Chinese food heaven. For parties of two, Shanghai is especially convenient: you can order a half duck portion for just $16.

3. Peking Cuisine

Just as the name would imply, the claim to fame at this restaurant is the Peking Duck. I highly recommend calling ahead to reserve it if you plan to come after 6:30 p.m. They regularly sell out of their signature dish, which comes with the traditional pancakes instead of buns, as well as a large bowl of duck soup made with some greens and the bones from the duck. The only reason it's not at the top of my list is because the duck skin isn't always as crisp as I would like it to be, but for the price ($25.95), you can't beat it.

2. Fung's Kitchen

The Peking duck here is just how I like it. The skin is crisp, the duck comes laid out in impressive fashion on a large platter, the sauce is very good, and you can choose whether you want pancakes or steamed buns with it. Fung's is also great if you're in a large group, because the dining room is large enough to accommodate big parties. Available daily for about $30.

1. Arco Seafood

My number one spot goes to Arco seafood because it does everything right. The service is fast and efficient, the restaurant is fancy without being too big, the noise level is just right, and the Peking Duck, when it comes out, has the perfect crispy skin with all the fat rendered, and just enough meat on it to counterbalance the crispy skin. The buns are also soft and big, and taste homemade. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Available daily for about $30.

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