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Jun 8, 2008 11:53 PM

Duck Yee Wonton

As a San Francisco expat, I am forever craving Duck Yee Wonton soup but I have not been able to find any place in LA that has it. Does anyone know where I can get my fix?

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  1. What exactly is "Duck Yee" wonton soup? I've never heard of it before.

    1. Any Cantonese BBQ joint will have it -- e.g. Sam Woo, MPV, Won Tin, etc.

      Down here in SoCal, it's not going to be called "Duck Yee" but rather "Roast Duck Wonton Soup".

      To make it like Duck Yee, you'll have to ask the restaurant to chop up the duck for you; but otherwise it's the same.

      17 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        After some detective work on CH search....looks like "Yee Wonton" is a rich bowl of broth with fried won tons in it and not the usual roast duck wonton noodle soup you can get at Sam Woo BBQ.

        1. re: monku

          monku, as a native son of the SF bay area, I confirm your assertion. It needs to have deep fried won tons as well as roast duck .(the won tons gain an interesting texture after soaking up broth, and remain more al dente) The dish's popularity goes back at least to the 1950s and isn't nearly as easy to find in the present day compared to 20-30 years ago (trade off in a way for different regional styles from china being introduced). I'd be surprised if the old school places in LA chinatown a few decades ago didn't make it.

          1. re: moto

            I go to those old school places in LA Chinatown and abouts and have never seen it. I never heard of it until this post. I'm going to be up in SF in a couple weeks and I'm definitely going have it. Any place you can recommend?

            1. re: monku

              Go to the Great Eastern in China Town. It is the best Chinese Restaurant I know.

              1. re: myddryn

                They'll have Duck Yee Won Ton soup?

                1. re: myddryn

                  Great Eastern is the best Chinese restaurant you know? It's not even on the top 50 on my list. And I also have never heard of such a thing as duck yee won ton soup, and I have lived in LA, the Bay Area, and Hong Kong.

                  1. re: PeterL

                    Wow, you showed us. Why don't you school us with some restaurants that have dishes you have heard of? If you know better, let's hear about them!

                2. re: monku

                  monku, I appreciate your interest and open mind. I have had a version very close to that photo you pulled up from google images at the New Woey Loy Goey on 699 Jackson St, SF chinatown. Truly an old school type of place, very neat and precise hand-calligraphed signs for the specials on the wall. Their version is very close to the dish Galen so kindly provided from Won Kok, but it's with a thickish brown broth rather than a gravy (you could call it a soupy gravy too). It was good, but not what I'd consider at the very top level of the dish's potential. My mother made a variation completely from fresh ingredients plus cha siu, omitting the duck, with a lighter more typical wor won ton style broth. So my ideal archetype would be closer to that, with the duck added. It may in fact be an "americanized" dish, and I haven't been to Asia nor seen it out of the bay area, but I've never seen any non-asian eating it either.

                  When you say you go to the old school LA places, are you referring to 20-30 years ago?--that would be contemporaneous to when the dish was more commonplace up north. Which of those places do you consider still worthwhile? We take our holiday vacation in LA/OC every year and would enjoy well-made, old school Cantonese cooking.

                  The words to look for on the SF area menus [there must be places in Oakland chinatown too, Golden Peacock would be likely, and if you find yourself in that chinatown, Yung Kee on Webster around 10th or 9th St. would be another candidate to check, as they serve many soup/wonton/noodle combos] are "op gung yee (fu) won ton"--the "fu" might not be present all the time. 'slacker' brings up the "mein" suffixed to the end, which would bring noodles added to the dish. I tried another version in the Richmond district "chinatown II" in SF, at Lee Hou on Clement, which was more minimalist than New Woey Loy Goey's. If you do go to SF chinatown, you might check the menu at Yee's on Grant near Broadway (in other words, right in the "main strip") because they have many things of that ilk, and their roast meats are very good. They are one of the few places that do a roast goose--big, meaty and rich--and they'll have a bunch of roasted birds and meats and prepared foods visible from the from window as one expects from a 'bbq'-roastery type of place. I can only guess these places aren't on PeterL.'s top 50 list--perhaps he goes to fancier establishments.

                  Enjoy your visit and thanks.

                  1. re: moto

                    Thanks for the heads up on where to find it. My mom lives in the Richmond district and been to Lee Hou. Have to make a stop in Oakland Chinatown anyway, so Golden Peacock is a possiblity.

                    While at New Won Kok a few weeks ago I saw the waiter delivering a bowl of brown gravy stuff and that must have been the Yee Won Ton they serve.

                    1. re: monku

                      Kirin on Geary/25th makes a very good version.

                    2. re: moto

                      Hi Moto,

                      I really miss the roast pork dinner at the Old Woey Louie Goey (the Underground). And Pork Chop House across the street brings back memories. I used to hang around Jackson St. a little back in the late 60s.

                      1. re: Galen

                        Galen, you'd probably find the 'new' Woey Loy Goey very familiar. You mention Won Kok--a chinatown place that's been around for decades, no? Do you recommend it? Which dishes show its qualities best? 'myrddryn' asked for an LA place and so far you're alone in coming up with a solid nomination. I'm a 60s guy myself, old style if fine for me. Thank you

                        1. re: moto

                          Hi Moto, actually, Won Kok's Yee Fu Wonton is real good. Lots of fresh Char Sui (instead of old dried out Char Sui), shrimp, chicken. Make sure to ask them to not overcook the sweet pea pods. Tell the waiter you like the sweet peas crispy. Their beef chow mein with soft noodles are good. As well as the dim sum to take home.

                          1. re: moto

                            Whoops! I didn't mean sweet peas: I meant snowpeas!

                            1. re: moto

                              This is for you and Galen, more so for you since Galen is in LA. New Woey Loy Goey still make a great Roast Duck Yee Fu Won Ton. All you have to do is to ask.

                              I did fine a place that does the old school Roast Pork (Western style) at :
                              Mariposa Cafeteria
                              1599 Tennessee St
                              (415) 285-5105
                              San Francisco, CA

                              As a 60's guy I still go to the Pork Chop House today. The food still the same. In the day a 3 Pork Chop dinner was 85 cents. I think it almost 8 dollars now. In those days I had a buck fifty I go for the dinner and piece of custard pie and still had enough for a good tip.

                              Just getting ready to go LA for vacation was checking on where to eat and found this interesting thread.

                              Galen if you get up to the Bay Area do try Mariposa.

                              1. re: yimster

                                Hi Yimster,

                                Thanks for the tip on the Duck Yee Fu Wonton at Won Kok. I think I'll try it. I can't believe Pork Chop House is still around. Is San Wa Que still around with their orange pie?

                                1. re: Galen

                                  No Sun Wa Que, is long gone. But I still remember the orange and apple pies as well as the 5 cent donuts. Once in a while I still get the orange pie at our poker game. One of us old timers (not me) work there after school and watch the baker work. He is not willing to share the recipe at this time.

                                  The food at Pork Chop House is still the same.

                3. Sounds like roast duck won ton noodles which you'll find at many Chinese restaurants here in LA. Sam Woo and all Chinese BBQ places will have it. It's just an added "topping" placed on top of the basic won ton soup noodle dish which could be either beef stew, char siu or roast duck. My favorite place in LA Chinatown for this is the Golden City Restaurant on North Broadway next to the Bamboo Pavilion. I even order it in Gardena for lunch at the Tasty Kitchen on Artesia and Normandie.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Clinton

                    We went to Golden City tonight because my friend didn't want to go to Won Kok (she hates the place, I like the place). I wanted to try te wstlake Duck at Won Kok tonight. Anyway, I've heard so much on Chowhounds about how good Golden City's Wonton Mein supposed to be, so we ordered Roast Duck Wonton Noodles. The wonton was okay, but the roast duck was real old. I think Golden City used to be a good wonton place when it was a bbq place. Their $15 dried scallop friend rice is supposed to be out of this world. It was okay (real overpriced). I know the owner. I think I'll go across the street to his other place Full House (same owner, better food!)

                  2. Duck Yee = Aap Yee. I can't quite remember what Yee means, but it relates to the duck not the wontons. To the extent that people remember deep friend wontons in the soup, that sounds like some holdover from old Chinese dishes made for white american taste.

                    Wait, maybe it's yee mien, as in the type of noodles. Now I gotta ask my family about this.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: slacker

                      Well, all this is kind of foreign to me. I've lived and experienced many soup noodle dishes before but never with deep fried won tons in it. Must be a regional thing sort of like cake noodles being served in Hawaii. Here in LA, most of our soup noodle dishes are served with thin egg noodles, or wheat noodles topped with choices of meats. I've had it with won tons, siu gow, or gau gee but all were either steamed or boiled. Fried won tons...that sounds interesting?

                      1. re: Clinton

                        Quick search on Google Image and this is what it looks like...nothing that I've seen in LA.


                        1. re: monku

                          Wow! Something new for I know what it is. May want to try it one day just like that black bean noodle dish I had at a Korean restaurant a few months ago. Thanks for the visual.

                          1. re: monku

                            That doesn't look like fried wontons to me. Fried (or more likely roasted) duck, yes. But fried wontons? No.

                            And really, why would anyone dump a load of fried wontons into soup broth? Defeats the purpose of frying them in the first place ...

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I see 3 of them...10:00-3:00-5:00.
                              Give the Golden Peacock a call and ask them (510) 763-0338

                              Why not dump fried won tons into soup broth...tortilla strips in tortilla soup are fried...I love to load up my seaweed soup with those fried noodles at Paul's the crunch.
                              Looks pretty good to me.

                              1. re: monku

                                Like sizzling rice soup. Concept based on rice at the bottom of the pot, turned into a menu item for non-Chinese. Just like chop suey--what to do with leftovers. Maybe some kitchen made too many deep fried wontons one day.

                                I gotta say, with the exception of the rich looking broth, the soup in the pic looks bad to me. Frozen peas, deep fried wontons. Doesn't sound too good.

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                For me, fried won tons are meat dumplings wrapped with a wheat flour skin. This pictured dish seem to be just deep fried skins mixed in with a thick soup with chopped duck meat instead of the traditional noodles. I would think after the skins absorbs the liquid, the soup would thicken? Interesting thought...Have never seen this dish prepared anywhere on the west coast. I have a feeling that this could be a regional creation?

                        2. I believe Duck Yee Wonton is deep fried wonton in a white colored gravy. Very yummy in fact. Won Kok makes a House Special Yee Wonton: A deep fried wonton, but with brown gravy, char sui, shrimp, chicken and all the usual suspects. They may have a Duck Yee Wonton but I never bothered to look.