Sunday, February 3, 2008

New York, Day 3

My final day in New York consisted of redemption at the Peking Duck House (28 Mott St./
New York, NY, 10013/212.227.1810
and 236 East 53rd St./New York, NY, 10022/212.759.8260), where we had originally planned to eat Saturday night. But thanks to the Fung Wah stop's location, we just happened to be in Chinatown.

Having arrived for a late lunch, we went straight into the main dining room (there was another one downstairs). The full length window of the Peking Duck House was shrouded by a red curtain, but the interior of the restaurant was not the hole-in-the-wall that I had expected.

We promptly got to work with the menu. Of course, Peking duck was on the list. The restaurant offers an Peking Duck Dinner special ($26.50 per n persons for a Peking duck and n-2 dishes - I couldn't explain it without the 'n's...), but we opted for the actual dish ($40) because we wanted to go a la carte. For other dishes, we chose homemade noodles with beef ($9.25) and more hollow vegetables (ordered 'off the menu' - in any case, it's usually there in Chinese restaurants).

Another habit - before Peking duck is served, it is shown to the customer so that he or she can approve of its size and how it's been cooked. (I might that Peking duck is notoriously hard to make - we actually talked about this while we waited for lunch. My sister's friend had prepared one, but had to hang it in his kitchen for three weeks.) This time, the chef actually hacked (in politer terms, I mean cut - not hax0rz) the duck in front of us, although he left a significant part of the meat on the duck, probably for someone else's duck soup.

The duck was placed promptly on the table with pancakes, cucumbers, green onions and hoisin sauce...which shouldn't be confused with duck sauce nor plum sauce. We wrapped all the ingredients in the pancake (really a very thin tortilla), and it was amazing that I might've as well hummed. The cucumbers were refreshingly crisp as was the duck skin (not quite as red as it is in Minnesota) against the chewy pancake, which was a little bit more thick than I would have liked. On the other hand, the dark meat was rich, deeply flavored, and the oil that mingled with it made the pancake taste better.

As for the noodles - I had expected brazenly shaven handcut noodles, similar to that of Joy Restaurant (one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area). At Peking Duck House, though, what homemade noodles seemed to mean were metal noodle cutters wielded in Chinatown. That said, the preparation is still legit in my opinion. Although the noodles were thin, they were well-textured and tasty - it didn't resemble the same shape as chow fun, but since it contained bean sprouts, beef strips and onions, it sure tasted like it. Finally, the hollow vegetables were delicious. They weren't particularly special, but they had been cooked in clean oil, and instead of the typical garlic stir-fry, scallions had been added to the mix.

Overall, the meal was a little pricey for a regular lunch - there was definitely a 'duck premium' added, but it was well worth a trip. We then headed over to Tai Pan Bakery. Again, mistaken assumptions - with its purple exterior and metal covered lunch counters, I thought it was a bakery for tourists. It turns out that it's a well-known Chinatown establishment...and that it was packed. I took a sesame ball for the trip (that's not my picture, though). It was two-point-five-inch-diameters of fried goodness, and the oil got on my fingers, even through the wax paper slip it came in. When I bit inside, there wasn't a lot of red bean paste to be found though, but even after two hours on the bus, it was still, weirdly enough, simultaneously crisp and chewy...but not crunchy.

And well - that concludes this short intersession trilogy. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...


Me said...

sorry for sitting on your sesame ball on the was just that the fung wah lady was yelling for us to sit and so i just...sat.