Tuesday Status: HANGRY
This article comes to you from the past, as I furiously clicked through hundreds of menus from restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, desperate to find one of the best foods on the planet*. Peking Duck.
J. Kenji López-Alt of The Food Lab‘s
raw emotions opinions on roast duck are worthy of reprinting:
Describe something to me as golden brown and crisp, and I’m as happy as a lion who’s discovered that his cage door is unlocked just before the zoo opens. Add the word “duck” to that phrase, and I’m the same lion who’s discovered that not only is his door open, but it happens to be “free admission if your pants are stuffed with ground gazelle day.” See his take on it here.
I mean. Look at it.
Crispy, golden skin and soft, gamey meat, on top of a paper thin pancake with aromatic hoisin sauce, shredded green onion, cucumber and sugar.
Salivate all you want. I’ll wait.
My most recent attempt at roasting one of these birds resulted in a spectacular bout of hand-searing alongside perfectly crispy duck legs and potatoes. Recipe Here.
Having grown up eating Cantonese Roast duck on weekend trips to LA, and only seeing it on the menu as a pricey alternative to chicken for years, I welcome the renaissance of duck in the modern restaurant scene. As new chefs are breaking away from chicken, more and more of them are beginning to turn to duck and gamier fowl as the new poultry capstone. As a result, duck is no longer limited to traditional Chinese restaurants or haute cuisine. We begin to see more accessible food like duck fat fries, pulled duck poutine, or, as seen in London’s Borough Market, a heaping duck confit sandwich.
But back to Tuesday. I was beginning to despair. In New York, the Peking Ducks were either not up to par in crispiness, taste, or quality of the toppings, or very expensive. I know it’s New York, still, $85 at Decoy or $92 at DaDong even makes me take a step back and think, is it worth it? And frankly, it probably still is.
But this story has a happy ending. To my fortune, Peony Kitchen came through with their five-spice crispy duck (along with a dish of the house chow fun).