DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME

Peking duck seems to have survived transliteration into “Beijing duck,” but by any name, this is not a dish you’d want to try making at home. It takes air-drying, fan-blowing, basting, and roasting, and you’d still probably have little more than a facsimile of the glorious, mahogany-colored, crisp-skinned, succulent duck served at the finest Chinese restaurants around the country. Lesser restaurants buy their ducks already prepared from Chinese meat markets and merely roast them through. But a great Peking duck is the pride of a Chinese chef, preferably one from Beijing itself, where the dish originated in the Imperial Courts. It is traditionally served with the skin and meat in a steamed bun or rolled Chinese pancakes, swabbed with a sweet sauce. One of the finest renditions is just where you’d expect it — at a place called Peking Duck House (28 Mott St.; 212-227-1810) in NYC’s flourishing Chinatown, which is not much on decor but everything about its signature item.

Other restaurants where you’ll find Peking duck done right — and always on the menu — include:
ATLANTA: Chopstix, 4279 Roswell Rd.; (404) 255-4868
BEVERLY HILLS: The Mandarin, 430 N. Camden Dr.; (310) 859-0926
CHICAGO: Szechwan House, 625 N. Michigan Ave.; (312) 642-3900
HONOLULU: Golden Dragon, 2005 Kalia Rd.; (808) 946-5336
HOUSTON: Scott’s Cellar, 6540 San Felipe; (713) 789-4484
LAS VEGAS: Moongate, Mirage Casino & Hotel, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd.;      (702) 791-7111
SAN FRANCISCO: Yank Sing, 101 Spear St.; (415) 781-1112