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Apr 30, 2008 11:16 AM

Roast Duck SD: Just making sure

It's my husband's birthday, and he's craving Chinese roast duck. We've had it here at a number of places around SD, but tonight we want the best. I haven't had it at Emerald, but the consensus seems to be that theirs is tops. Anyone had it at China Max (I might have once, but can't remember)? We like it crisped and heavy on the anise flavor, preferably with a thin little gingery-anisy sauce.

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  1. Are you referring to Peking duck? Or BBQ duck with the 5-spice rub (i.e. the hanging ducks seen at "Cantonese delis" like Sam Woo)?

    I've had the Peking Duck at Emerald and I didn't think much of it. That's not saying that it was bad... it was decent with good steamed buns for the crisped skin. The meat was lacking in flavor, though, and I remember it being pretty expensive. I prefer China Max over Emerald overall for Cantonese cooking, but I haven't tried the PD there.

    If you're looking for the BBQ duck, I'd have to say Sam Woo is probably the best. Jasmine's dim-sum takeout area has the duck, too.

    9 Replies
    1. re: geekyfoodie

      Sorry for not being more specific -- not Peking duck. Husband doesn't like green onions, and he lets that ruin the whole experience for him. We usually get Sam Woo when he has a craving. I was hoping, though that there might be a place that quickly fried the roast duck to crisp it up before serving. That's the way we first experienced duck at a restaurant in WA state, though I suppose it's not an authentic method.

      1. re: maestra

        I like my duck Sam Woo-style, with plenty of fat, spice, and attitude from the staff. ;) I'd like to say that China Max/Emerald/Jasmine should offer duck prepared other ways, but I'm not entirely sure. It's probably best to check the menus (hopefully other CHers will jump in with location suggestions) before you're seated.

        How about asking for the green onions to be omitted from the Peking duck?

        1. re: geekyfoodie

          "I like my duck Sam Woo-style, with plenty of fat, spice, and attitude from the staff."


          1. re: geekyfoodie

            Sorry to say, but we save our Cantonese meals for Vegas or LA after the family has done their research through the local Chinese newspapers.

            I have to admit, Asian attitude is part of the whole experience!!! :-)

            1. re: geekyfoodie

              The only constant with Roast Duck in San Diego is the gross inconsistency when it comes to any type of Chinese BBQ.

              Sam Woo goes from grease-pit, to under seasoned, to dry as jerky. Though the last time there, the older guy was pretty friendly....I had to check to make sure I was in the right place.
              Golden City had been pretty good (I still think their Peking Duck for $18 - 2 courses carved at the table is a bargain - unless they've raised prices recently), but their Roast Duck has fluctuated from mushy to salt-lick in recently, I think they changed chefs or something.
              This year, the most consistant Roast Duck(for take-out) I had(we keep trying) has been from Jasmine Express(people are surprised when I tell them it's not that much more expensive than Sam Woo), but on one occaision the duck was waaaay too salty.
              The Roast Duck at Cam Ky looked really good, the skin was fairly crisp, but it was very lean, and on return visits I found the flavor to be on the mild side.

              I once had pretty good roast duck several years ago from Tom's Chinese BBQ, but soon after, the place started going down hill. I haven't been back in years(I guess I need to check them out again), but you may to try it out.

              Tom's Chinese BBQ
              4414 University Ave
              San Diego, CA 92105

              BTW, China Max serves their Peking Duck with cucumber, not scallions. But it is pricey.
              We also save most of our Chinese cravings for the SGV.

              1. re: KirkK

                I guess I've been lucky because the ducks I get from Sam Woo have been pretty consistent, but I usually buy before noon. One guy there (probably the old guy you mention) even remembers me and is friendly, so maybe he picks out a good one for me.

                The best I've ever had was from Jasmine when a Cantonese friend did the ordering, but the next time I went there, I didn't think it was better than SW.


                1. re: KirkK

                  Kirk and Daantaat: I definitely agree that LA (and Vegas? Really? I really must surface from the crazy buffets to explore more of their Chinese eats) has better offerings when it comes to roast duck.

                  Kirk, thanks for the recs... I've been meaning to try Cam Ky for a while, but I keep going back to Sam Woo. This past time, I had to pick up something at 99 Ranch.

                  This Tom's Chinese BBQ is intriguing. Is it still there?

                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                    Geekyfoodie...yes, Vegas. Really. Vegas Chinatown is along Spring Mountain Road with some offshoots on the crosstreets (Decatur and others). Lots of good, regional Chinese eats. Best dim sum is Cathay House. There's a great Taiwanese noodle shop called Champion Noodle House. And a very tasty Hunan place tucked behind one of the sprawling mini-malls (the name escapes me).

                    1. re: daantaat

                      We've never gone wrong with any restaurant on Spring Mountain. So good, and so much more variety than we have.