July 9, 2008
Peking Duck House: The Duck, It Satisfies
I love it when restaurants use their specialty eviscerated prey as a mascot. Peking Duck House didn't have a particularly tacky design on their flag—just a good ol' duck wearing a chef's hat—but if you thinking about it long enough (which is apparently something you're not supposed to do), you realize how odd the image is. Is the duck preparing to cook itself? Its friends? Is it just a really stupid duck?
Who cares. Let's get to the good stuff: roasted duck meat. Hooray!
When Christina messaged me saying she was visiting from Paris for a week and delicious fooding was in need, we decided to go to Peking Duck House. About 30 seconds after setting the time and place, I realized that two people probably couldn't eat a whole Peking Duck...comfortably. To help ease the pain, I invited Alice and Olivia, and Christina thankfully also brought Winston—our party of five was just right to defeat every piece of duck, plus a few sides.
I would assume that Peking Duck House provides the best version of Peking Duck in Manhattan's Chinatown. As for all of New York City, the best of any Chinese food tends to come from Flushing. Which is over there (points). I'm usually too lazy to go there, but if you have a burning Peking Duck recommendation for me in Flushing, let it out.
- Slicin' the duck.
A waiter presented us with our whole roast duck before taking it to the central cutting table where a skilled chef (skilled, I assumed, because he was wearing a big, foofy hat) effortlessly sliced it into even chunks with a long, slender knife.
AND THEN WE HAD DUCK. A big honkin' plate of it, slices neatly arranged around the plate's perimeter. It was almost a shame to disturb the plating...but not really.
I was in heaven from the first bite—the kind of heaven filled with tender, juicy, fatty duck meat accentuated by the crispiest, paper-thin skin I've ever had. But if it were truly heaven, I'd be dead. So instead it was just really moan-inducing, health-depleting delicious, which had something to do with it being the most fatty pork-resembling form of poultry I've ever had. The fat. The fat. It was magical. It's rare that I eagerly eat anything that's 99.9% skin and subcutaneous fat, but I ate a piece or two of that very composition. To me the sweets equivalent of that would be like eating a spoonful of frosting. It's awesome, in small doses.
- Oh wait, there's more.
You're supposed to wrap duck with the accompanying thin pancakes smeared with hoisin sauce and topped with cucumber sticks and scallions, but I was pretty happy just eating the duck straight. All those ingredients went together well though—they made for an awesome burrito-like thing. However, the burrito resemblance wasn't really a good thing—it was mostly due to the pancakes being off-puttingly tortilla-like, too thick and chewy for my tastes. I heard you can ask for buns instead of pancakes though, which would work better.
We offset the duckiness with Chinese broccoli, one of my favorite Chinese vegetable dishes. Granted, I like pretty much any Chinese vegetable dish (mm, oyster sauce!), but I find chomping on the thick broccoli stalks rather satisfying, if they're at the right stage of tenderness: cooked through, still crunchy, not jaw-achingly fibrous. Chinese restaurants always seem to do this right. When I do it at home, I either overcook or undercook. My Chinese heritage does nothing for my cooking skills.
- Oh, more meat.
We offset the broccoli with pork dumplings. Uh. ...Yes. The skin was a bit thick, but the filling was also heftier than average. Overall, a good dumpling. I think the only dumplings I don't like are the ones from Chinese take-outs (who makes those monstrosities?—like the bastard child of a dumpling and a bao with a birth defect), but even those can taste awesome when fresh. DUMPLINGS JUST DO NOT FAIL.
After our happy and fattened bodies hobbling out of Peking Duck House, we headed to Teariffic to satiate Olivia's bubble tea craving, which she gets at least once a day. It's not a craving as much as a extra meal her body has become accustomed to expecting.
Olivia fulfilled her bubble tea requirement while I got the wimpiest coconut and peanut butter toast ever. Toast at a Chinese teahouse is supposed to be a monstrously block of wheat, not something you'd make a sandwich out of. This was more like Wonderbread. For a fat, substantial toast, go to Green Tea Cafe down the street.
- Pineapple cake
Alice ordered pineapple cakes, which apparently no one orders as the waiter didn't even know they were on the menu. Thankfully the pineapple cakes didn't taste neglected, but like like normal, tender shortbread-like rectangular blocks filled with sweet pineapple goo. (If you're thinking, "That cake doesn't really look like a cake," I'd say, "...Yeah." I grew up eating loads of pineapple cakes so it rarely occurs to me that they look nothing like what you'd expect something with "cake" in the name to look like. Now you know. I can't think of a better name that's as simple. Pineapple block? Meh.)
- Christina, Olivia, Alice, and Winston: a very good set of stomachs.
Many thanks to my friends, who I failed to optimally photograph, for helping me eat. Without you, I'd be fatter and unhappier.
Peking Duck House
28 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013
51 Mott Street, New York NY 10013
Posted by roboppy at 11:46 PM
Not enough people in America appreciate the glory of a whole roasted duck. Even a simple thing like the beads of fat rolling down carcass, creating a wondrous natural marinade as it hisses against the fire, makes my mouth water. It would bring a tear to my eye if I weren't already so fixated on eating it.
The sad thing is, most of my friends have never even tasted duck and find the thought to be repulsive. I'd burn them at the stake, I would!
^ *gasps at Ace's comment* A life without ducky goodness is...just sad. :*(
That's awesome with the duck presentation. I haven't seen one of those in aaaaaaaaages!
the peking duck i grew up with was where they would only slice the crispy skin off, which you would then eat with the hoisin, scallion and the thin pancake. the meat was then cut up and stir fried into a noodle dish that would surface at some point. just eating skin alone is heaven :D
on another note, for good roast duck, i highly recommend great ny noodletown on the corner of bowery and bayard.
The duck slices look like they really taste awesome! Too bad the wrappers they served you were thick...they should have been paper thin. :(
The pineapple cakes look more like sponges...pinapple sponge anyone? :P
The peking duck served in Indonesia is also like the one mentioned by Louanne. Only the crispy skin is eaten with hoisin sauce, scallion and cucumber stick, wrapped in thin pancake. The meat is not cooked with noodle, though. It's usually cooked with either bean sprout and green chillies or with black pepper sauce. Hmmm, yumm... My mouth is watering while writing this.
What a terrific meal! I love your mouthwatering photography. A friend told me that Peking Duck is supposed to be fatty. When I make it at home, I use Marcella Hazan's technique of parboiling the duck and then taking it out and going over it with a hairdryer, wiping off the beads of fat as they appear. My family is very entertained by this. However, it does result in a crispy skin and less fat.
Thanks for telling me where to go in Chinatown, our last dim sum there was ho-hum. We had a cosmic dim sum in London last summer so it was disappointing!
Hell yeah! Whole roast duck Peking style for the MASSIVE win. It is so many times superior to crispy aromatic duck. I wish I knew of a speciality Peking duck restaurant, although it might lead to coronary heart disease it would be a risk I'm willing to take. I'm salivating just at the thought of that juicy duck meat with the no.1 best tasting fat dripping off of it.
Duck along with Dim Sum is my favorite meal - That looks so great and sadly here in Mayberry there is not a place within 50 miles to enjoy this type of kick ass meal.
So pretty much these pictures are killing me - Thanks!! :)
Robyn, hell yeah! Peking Duck is one of my favorite things to eat, and thank goodness we have a place near me in Maryland where they do it up right! My favorite part definitely has to be the crispy skin....ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The duck is a little disturbing. I'm currently in the process of taking pictures of every one of that type restaurant signage here in Seoul that I come across.
They're kind of like the duck, only super gung-ho!
Here! Come eat beef! * cow with thumbs up*
Here! Come eat pork! *pig doing the asian peace sign!*
Suicide food's got spriti
Hmm ... this makes me think I should get a duck from the Taiwanese deli up the street. I haven't had it in forever! And what I have had certainly didn't look that pretty on the plate!
ARrRgh! that's a horrible picture of me!!! (gah, I'm so vain!!!) i look so sneeeeaky!!!
but yesh. it was ducky dericiousness. DERICIOUSNESS!!! And, as thin as it was, the toast was super whisper-cotton-candy soft.
Wow, that duck, it's awesome! The dumplings looks pretty good, too.
I had pancakes like that the other day, but the texture was thinner than normal tortillas and it was slightly flakier, yet not really flaky.
The only place that (I think) sold bubble tea where I live closed down. Bummer days. :(
Btw duck CAN get better,
try Peking duck in Beijing; it's cheap AND delicious ;O)
Floofier hat = better chef...I agree
Oh god, I hate fatty meats. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
Peking duck over here gets served 2 ways (skin and meat, then they take the bones away for frying with chilli and salt - great with beer!) or 3 ways (skin/meat, fried bones, and a soup made out of whatevers left I think! Duck soup, yum). I took some American friends who had never had peking duck before out for a duck dinner; they loved every morsel from the pancakes to the soup (3way - oooo heehee).
Argh your kaya toast looks sad :( you must try some pandan flavored kaya (a weird green colored jam, but tasty). Then add a block of the pineapple cake on it!!! The ones from Taipei are lovely, crumbly pastry with lots of pineapple inside. Ok, now I must have breakfast or my stomach rumblings will take over my brain.
Ace: BEADS OF FAT? I didn't get to see the beads. Now I am sad.
I was against duck for a long time, but if I had started with Peking Duck, I'd love it! Get your friends to eat this...and if they don't like it...poop em!
Manda: I agree, such sadness.
Louanne: Uh..that sounds awesome. I want that!
I've only been to NY Noodletown once. Perhaps I should go back..
Ed B: NOO, NO PINEAPPLE SPONGE! ;_;
Ully: Crap, I need to go to Indonesia.
Bonnie: Whoa, I'm so not determined enough to make duck like that at home. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to blowdrying my...hair! But I'd..um, totally eat your duck, yes.
Superchomp: No 1 Best Tasting Fat could be a name for a Peking Duck house. Hehehehehe.
Cathy C: 50 miles, oh noo!...well...less temptation ain't so bad, eh? I'm surrounded by it!
Honey: if I'm ever in your area, I know where we're eating. Bwaahahharr.
Michelle: We're supposed to think the animals are happy to be eaten! Yeaah, that makes me feel a lot better.....nope!
Julie: I want a Taiwanese deli up the street!
Alice: YOU ARE KYOOT, SHUTTUUP! :D
And try, the toast was all soft like. I just with it had been three times thicker!
Christina: I wonder why this place makes crappy pancakes. I want thin ones! At least the duck is good.
cachingnese: But it'll cost me a gajillion dollars to get to Beijing! :(
Kate: Foofy hat = scientific proof.
Olivia: It's okay...(pat pat). Your body wants to stay slim, or something.
Mila: That sounds awesome! "Whatever's left over" soup sounds...good. I think. Maybe.
Kaya toast was emaciated. I think the best toast I had was in Taipei...a peanut butter toast. Slathered to the edge. On a faaaat piece of toast. Nom nom.
Frank Bruni did a great article on The Peking Duck House not too long ago:
Just like the best ratio for mashed potatoes is half potato half fat, the best ratio for peking duck is half skin half meat.
NY Noodletown is awesome, I go there late at night pretty often. They never have any roast baby pig left late at night, but they always have roast duck still hanging, so I always order it. It's always delicious. Let's meet sometime! I'm right across the river in Jersey City.
My family always ignored the "accessories" and just gorged on the fowl -- usually with plain white rice and perhaps a few "extras" like your order of gui-lan (speaking of which, my mom makes an exact clone of the texture of that chinese broccoli and oyster sauce). The only problem I've ever had with these sorts of chinese meals is the inclusion of the head on the platter. When I was very, very young, one of my aunties used to torment me with it. And the heads of the lobsters. And the chicken feet.
Yeah, it's a strange sort of love in our family.
The word subcutaneous instantly takes on a sexy alter-ego when used in reference to duck fat. Just an observation.
mmmmm... duckiness. That's what I love! And yea... no idea where to get the best Peking duck in the city. I like those pineapple cakes too and it never occurred to me that non-asian people would think it isn't cake... non-asian people just need to eat more of it!
*gasp* My office unblocked your site! For the longest time it was blocked and I was woefully roboppy deprived (while I would see links galore to your site and sigh wistfully). Anyway. Ahem. I'm not sure about the take out dumplings because I don't get those, but you know "wo tip" (I think that's Cantonese even though it sounds and looks Mandarin) - fried dumplings that you get for like $1 for 5 at random stalls and stuff? They're more like meat-bao (um.. buns I guess?) but fried... way more dough than regular dumplings... I don't know. But that's what you made me think of when you said bastard cross between dumpling and bao. Although I like wo-tip, but only once in a while, or you get fat, and I don't want that.
omg.. peking duck.. yum yum.
but they serve it with the flat wrapper sheets..
where can i git peking duck with the little cute white pancake thingie..
i luv it with the little pancake thingie...they are just as easy to make as man-tao i'd make it my self except there's teh duck part..
I assume that peanut butter toast is supposed to be HK-style. It looks kind of lame. I just had the pleasure of spending six months in Singapore, and I agree with the above poster -- kaya for the win. It's either green or brown (I prefer brown) and is just sort of this nice eggy, custardy, aromatic sweet stuff they splooge on toast with a CRAPLOAD of butter. Bonus: it's simmered with pandan leaves. Both the plant, which is all over the island, and the resulting kaya smell like buttered popcorn.
Honestly, if you haven't been to Singapore, you should go. It is foodie heaven because everything is so cheap and good and everyone on the island is obsessed with food.
Joseph: Mm, half skin half meat...the golden delicious ratio. I like.
I'll go to NY Noodletown if you want! Mm late night duckies?
Steph: Strange love is the best kind. As long as you don't develop a weird phobia from it.
Christian: I love to use the word "subcutaneous" as often as I can. It is a very good word, indeedio.
Danny: NEED MOAR PINEAPPLE CAKE!!
Maybe we need to organize a Peking Duck dinner? Bwahahaaa.
Yvo: YES I AM NOT BLOCKED!! I WIN!!
Mm, wo tip sound kinda like the Chinese take out dumplings, but I would assume those are much better because Chinese take out doesn't really cater to...Chinese. Heh. Things wrapped in dough are so tasty, cannot resiiisst...OMG WANT DUMPLING. (Actually I have a stomachache right now so I'm totally lying, but once I get my appetite back, I would love some dumplings.)
Grace: WAAH I WANT MAN TOU stop giving me craviinnggss.
have.at.it: I REALLY NEED to go to Singapore, I know. :( I actually did go once, but I was in 6th or 7th grade (yeah, that..left an impression on me) and I didn't care about food back hen. Sad. Maybe if I had been more attached to the internet I would've...
How beautiful is that glistening fat??!
We need a duck + dumplings dinner!
Traditional peking duck comes in two courses. the first is the skin with the pancakes etc... For the second course one gets the meat, I find it best with a black bean sauce.
My favorite peking duck in Manhattan is at Tse Yang in midtown. However, one must ask for less hoisin sauce. They put the whole thing together and usually use way to much... For the second course one has to request the black beans.
Danny: THIS CAN BE DONE. Start at one of those cheap dumpling houses, then get duck..or vice versa?
Scott: There needs to be more two course meals like that.
Oh man. I need to get to Peking Duck House with the quickness the next time I'm in NY!
I'll be in NY yesterday in order to have that duck! Seriously, when I go to NY (it's being planned as my gf is a big NY fan) this place (and at least one other high scoring chinese place) better be on that list of restaurants you have waiting for me! That duck looked awesome! Oh, and I had no idea you've been against duck at one point. Can't remember anything of the sort from Paris?
Marie: Feel free to take me with you if you do!
Morten: You're gonna eat so much when you come here, dood. I CAN'T WAIT!!@#
I started to love duck when I got to Paris! ;) Never had duck confit before that. Mmmhhhhmhm it's so good.
They actually got an excellent Chinese restaurant in Paris where the roasted duck is served 3-way. Ask your friend to treat you there next time so you can have the duck served in the order of chinese northern authenticity, fusion-styled and a la joie de vive. Personally, that was the most memorable peking duck. To my 7-yr old son's amazement, the French waiter sliced the duck skin into 36 even-sized pieces at the tableside per his order.
Oh gosh, there's nothing like the Peking Duck House in these parts. I haven't been there in years; none of my friends in NY liked to eat meat fat.
Where can one get the "soup to nuts" style of Peking Duck presentation where they use ever part of the bird and actually make duck soup too? Or is that a myth?
James: Wuut, I totally didn't know about this restaurant when I was in Paris! FAIL. I don't remember eating any Chinese food in Paris, actually.. :O Then again, I was only there for 4 months, so I tried to fill up on French food. Bwahaha.
Carol: Meat fat is so gooood! SO GOOD! You have to show your friends the light. As for where to get the soup to nuts duck, I have no idea. :(
Because of your post, I went there last night! IT WAS SO GOOD!!!! THE SKIN! THE FAT!!! Yummmmmmmmmm
Honey! I must know where in Maryland I can find the wondrous Peking Duck.
Hello again Roboppy. Do you remember me and my daughter with the 'Gimme Pancakes' shirt/dress? She wants another one, btw since she has outgrown the other.
Amy: YAAY! I'm glad you liked it!
Grommie: AHH yes I remember your daughter with the HUUUGE shirt? Hehe. Glad to hear that she's grown! Cos that's what most humans do. I don't have that many left..but...if you really want another one let me know what size you're looking for and I'll see what I have.
Nearly in tears over this. No good Peking Duck in all of Deutschland. None!
GOOD LORD, ROBBINS BOBBINS!!!
HoLy sh*tbaLLs! I just met Christina last night at Chego through a friend I just made weeks ago. She looked so famiLiar but I couLdn't remember how I knew her.
YOU KNOW EVERYBODY.
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