One of the oddest cravings I have, and I am well aware that I am the minority here, is Peking Duck. There is something truly magical about the textures at play. The crisp skin of the duck, rich with the heady aroma of five-spice, the crunch of freshly-sliced spring onions and cool cucumbers, the salty-sweetness of the hoisin sauce rounding out all the flavours, barely nestled in a thin pancake! The memory of that first bite is always so vivid and almost begs to be recreated.
There were two impediments to that, however. Firstly, very few places in Karachi make Peking Duck or its anglicised spin-off, Crispy Aromatic Duck. Secondly, for our chicken-loving palettes, duck is a very acquired taste. No matter how severe the craving is, a full or even half a duck on my own is a stretch. The solution to these impediments came in the form of The Fat Chicken! A home-based delivery service that specialises in rotisserie chicken but somehow also has Peking Chicken on their menu.
Care to hazard a guess on what happened next?
A simple WhatsApp message was all that was needed a couple of days prior, and voila! A platter of Peking Chicken, complete with all the trimmings, was deliciously delivered to my doorstep!
My initial reaction was that of glee, mixed with a little dread. Glee, because the chicken looked supremely juicy, with an enticing aroma subtly wafting towards me. Dread, because at first, I believed I wasn't provided with enough pancakes for the chicken. There is nothing worse, after all, than running out of pancakes while there is still loads of duck (or, in this case, chicken) left to consume. Thankfully, this was one of the times where the application of the phrase "looks can be deceiving" was wholly positive.
The pancakes proved to be more than sufficient, providing the perfect yet delicate canvas for the chicken to shine. Given that it is chicken, after all, the skin wasn’t as crisp. However, the meat itself was deliciously perfumed with five spice and every bit as juicy as it looked. Add a dash of the provided hoisin sauce to a pancake and pile on chicken with bits of skin, cucumber and spring onion; add a touch of the provided chilli oil to satiate our need for heat, wrap it up and boom!
If, like me, you were after recreating the joys of Peking Duck, this comes very close. That first bite conjures up all the same notes — the same intense savouriness of the chicken highlighted by the subtle sweetness of the hoisin sauce, the cucumber adding a cool crunch and the allium sharpness of the spring onion rounding everything off, all make their presence known.
The only area where The Fat Chicken falls short is only on the skin’s crispiness. That is where I miss duck the most, I suppose, as its gaminess can still be a bit of a challenge. Conversely, the use of chicken and The Fat Chicken’s treatment of the ingredients makes a relatively rare dish all the more accessible.
That is their greatest achievement, in my view, and definitely worth a repeat order! Pro-tip, toss the leftover chicken in the hoisin sauce and heat for five to 10 minutes in an air fryer the next day. Add a little sweet chilli sauce to the pancakes this time for a truly magical Sunday brunch!
What I ordered: Peking Chicken Platter
Total damage: Rs3,500 excluding delivery
All photos by the author