When I go eat at Peking Duck restaurants, they always bring a delicious duck over, present it to me and friends or me and family members, then they proceed to slice a few pieces onto the little buns, add some hoison sauce, veggies, and then distribute to us to eat.

Then, it almost seems shocking, they take our duck away.

It's like...half a duck is taken away from us...mysteriously back into the kitchen.

So now we have to order another duck ...then a third duck... + some sauteed dishes to fill us all up.

So my question is: Why does this happen? Is only a small part of a duck edible? Are we being ripped off? E.g., Are they keeping the duck for themselves for some purpose? Making soups comes to mind.

Are they making duck soup with the duck that we should have eaten?

But then here's another interesting obversvation: I notice that Peking Duck service stations at buffets actually throws away big parts of the duck, after slicing up a few pieces to make the buns for people standing on line.

So...perhaps it is just a fact that most of the duck is inedible. But I would just like some information from this forum.

Thanks in advance!

  • 3
    This is weird. As with other edible birds you can eat most of it (apart from the bones and stuff). It could be that they use the rest of the duck to cook something or serve it up differently... It could be that they only want to for serve some choice pieces, so as to appeal to everyone's sense of aesthetics. Serving up thigh meat beautifully is more difficult than breast meat, which you can easily slice up into neat pieces with a little crust and they look nice on the plate (even if they are rolled up afterwards) Apr 23, 2016 at 11:33
  • 3
    When you say going for a third duck etc how many people are you talking about? I often cook duck and my wife and myself often go through a whole duck between us, that's fairly large serves but you certainly get a lot less meat than off a chicken (I'd say half as much for typical sizes of each).
    – PeterJ
    Apr 23, 2016 at 11:33
  • Geez ... only half as much @peterj? Maybe that's why. But, when they take it away, I can almost swear that there's still meat on that duck. We feel swindled when it happens. Yet, we see big duck remainders being thrown out at buffets, so I am confused. Perhaps I'll just ask directly next time ... "That's my duck!" :)
    – User001
    Apr 23, 2016 at 11:41
  • 1
    Yea...I think they just want us to order more ducks ... @dukerasputin.
    – User001
    Apr 23, 2016 at 11:44

4 Answers 4


Typically, the 'Peking Duck' dish only uses the crispy duck skin. The rest of the duck will usually be used in other duck-dishes.

  • Good point. Hmm...I wonder whether I can tell them not to take my duck(s) away next time, and that we'll eat the rest by ourselves, and that they don't have to carve it for us. I'm not sure what the rules are...
    – User001
    Apr 25, 2016 at 12:19

In several of the restaurants I've ordered peking duck at they offer it as part of three courses. They will first present the duck and cut off slices of the skin (with only a small amount of meat), this is then used with the pancakes.

They will then take the duck away away and create a noodle dish with the remaining meat. Finally they use the everything left to make a duck soup (dishes may vary from place to place).

It's quite possible that the restaurant you went to only offers the dishes separately.

  • Yes, that's been my experience. You get all of the duck, it just arrives as different courses of the meal. Nov 1, 2019 at 22:29

I'm curious if this happened in the US or in China?

When I grew up in China, most restaurants that I went to that served Peking duck would serve it in multiple dishes (they'd call it 一鸭三吃, "Yi Ya San Chi", or "One duck, eaten 3 ways", or two ways, or four ways, etc.). There is less waste this way, and they get you to order more dishes (and pay more) out of one duck.

One of the dishes would typically be the skin on its own or with the wraps/scallions/hoisin sauce (the skin is prized for its crispiness; I don't remember caring too much about the meat of the duck since it's usually very tough and chewy). Another common dish would be the soup made from the meat and carcasses, served with other vegetables, etc.

It's possible that when you ordered Peking duck, they took it away afterwards to make the other dishes. Since you didn't touch the duck and they served it to you, they could use the rest of the duck to make another dish for you - maybe a soup, or a stew, etc.

It would be very strange, though I wouldn't count it out, if the rest of the duck went into making 高汤, a form of clear Chinese stock, that would just be for the kitchen when they make other dishes.


I wrote a negative review about an Australian Chinese restaurant who did this - $76 for the duck for 2 ppl & what they advertise as a 2 course meal. The choice was: Duck skin, pancakes & sauce AND San Choi Bow Or Duck skin, pancakes & sauce AND duck with soft noodles. We ordered the 1st one, got the crispy skin (no meat), 10 pancakes & sauce. They took the duck away which was quite large with lots of meat. We comment it was going to be a lot of food to eat by the size of the bird. When the 2nd course came out it was 2 small lettuce cups with the tiniest amount of San Choi Bow mixture in it. We asked the waiter where was the rest of the meat and he said that was it.

I buy whole Peking duck from the Chinese BBQ place, 1/4 it up at home and I can get 4 good size 1/4’s to make a Thai style BBQ duck dish for 4 people PLUS strip the carcass and have enough meat to make a red duck curry for 2-3 people.

So, I know for a fact, I’m not getting the entire duck when I get duck pancakes. They’re ripping us off.

  • I've definitely had places where you get the entire duck in 3+ courses, so yes, you're getting ripped off. (Although I imagine Chinese restaurants are more common in the GTA than wherever you are in Australia, so we do have more choices.)
    – Elenna123
    Nov 3, 2019 at 17:27

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