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inexpensive, but good duck entree?

My 12 year old wants to try duck for the first time. I'd like to take him out rather than experiment on him with a recipe (don't want to ruin his first opinion :-) ). Any suggestions for a restaurant that won't break the bank?

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  1. i bet you get a lot of Chinese duck recs.


    unfortunately i haven't tried em yet, though i want to!

    4 Replies
    1. re: NirvRush

      When Din Ho is on, their duck is exceptional. It's a nice introduction because you can couple it with other safer things for him to eat.

      I had the smoked duck probably 2-3 years ago at the South Congress cafe (I don't know if its still on the menu) and it was easily the best duck I have had here in Austin.

      1. re: shan

        Here, here! The amazing, perfect, succulent duck at Din Ho (assuming they're on their game) is absolutely delicious.

        I crave their duck "tacos", and constantly. One of the best items I've had in Austin, and definitely in the running for the single bite I desire the most. So moist, with all the beautiful layers of duck represented. A skin layer, sometimes crispy, and that mild smoke taste. The translucent fat layer lightly laced with gamy goodness. The softer, juicier duck meat, perfect to bite, interspersed with slightly tougher duck meat, a shade off the first, only a little work and still so joyous, a non-sweet caramel. The bones and surrounding tissues, worthy of gnawing.

        If there is better duck in Austin, I haven't found it. For Chinese, they're head-and-shoulders over the rest I've tried: not tea-smoked duck at China Town, not crispy duck at Tien Jin, not duck bits at Tien Hong. These places just don't have the BBQ facilities that Din Ho has. (Perhaps I should try First Chinese, which is supposed to have the goods?)

        And I'm not just talking Chinese: the duck at all the upscale places in town you'd think would nail it (Wink et al) is, while at their best very good, a sad and flaccid affair by comparison to Din Ho's Mighty Duck Tacos.

        Pick it up to go with a tray of the char siu pork and make it a jamsational mouth party. Whoever you have along with you will be *so* grateful; however they may just start punching themselves in the spleen with envy for the times you've had it in the past that they haven't.

        1. re: tom in austin

          First Chinese duck compares very well with the best Din Ho duck with one important difference - First Chinese is amazingly consistent. Plus, you can get a combo of the duck and an excellant marinated chicken so as not to overwhelm the kid at his first attempt.
          While I can't remember the exact price, I'm pretty sure it was 8 to 10 bucks for a very generous portion served family style..

          1. re: Alan Sudo

            I would have to second the opinion that First Chinese ducks are more consistent. Din Ho seem to have more off days lately.

    2. braised duck with cherry at stortini. its only like 12 bucks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ieathereforeiam

        Haven't heard a word about Stortini of late.The building looks a lot better since they stripped off the sickly blue paint job.Did they manage to get things turned around in the kitchen.Is it still the same chef?

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          I am not too familiar with their inner workings, but as far as i know they have the same head chef. The service there is spotty, but i've found the food to be pretty solid. esp for the price.

      2. You might consider peking duck, too. At Chinatown (the one on Greystone) they offer it on their dim sum menu at somewhere in the 8 to 12 dollar range. I would go on a saturday because their dim sum service is typically not as busy as it can get on Sunday. But call them just before you're headed over and ask if they have the peking duck for, specifically, the dim sum menu.

        I think a kid is more likely going to prefer peking duck over roasted duck, but Din Ho would be an excellent choice, too.

        Chinatown offers peking duck during the week too, if ordered in advance, but that's way too pricey for a 12 year old who may or may not even like it.

        1. Watch the menu at Soup Peddler; they occasionally have dishes with duck in them. I recommend the cassoulet when it comes around!

          1. If he is inclined at all toward Asian food, maybe the Smoked Duck with Leeks and Ginger at Sea Dragon might be of interest. It is a sublime combo of those ingredients with a few jalapeno slices thrown in for some heat. The duck is usually perfectly cooked, not dry, but just moist enough. One of my favorite dishes of all time in Austin. But those roasted ducks at the here mentioned locations are wonderful as well...

            1. I just have to say how cool it is that you are helping your son expand his food horizons and making the effort to find a version of the food he's curious about that he will like.

              I have a friend who tried to control everything her kids ate until they were grownups! She was always telling them they wouldn't or "might not" like things, watch out, that's too spicy, etc., etc. It became a joke to everyone but her. Luckily, the kids didn't end up afraid to try new things, but oddly enough I know several young women (early 20's) who are. I mean, they are scared of tofu! It's strange to me, I thought everyone was so much more sophisticated than that by now. Anyway, I'm babbling now, but mainly wanted to congratulate you for encouraging your son's culinary curiosity.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ashforth

                Thanks for that! I thought I would have posted a review by now but we didn't make it out this week. I'm hoping in the next couple of days we will. I'm leaning towards Stortini (I'm having a bit of an italian craving) or First Chinese. Din ho sounds awesome but I'm not known for my patience and I foresee being disappointed in the service (I know, I know - it's part of the whole atmosphere, need to relax and all that). Plus I'm getting the impression there might be "crunchy bits" in the duck tacos. Not a major problem for me - but he might freak out a bit.

                Anyway it's fun to watch his awareness and curiosity broaden. I made it a point to bring home ceviche today for him to try - can you believe, he didn't like it? Oh well, more for me. :-)

                1. re: mwreese

                  If you go to Stortini, start with the risotto balls. crunchy on the outside and cheese in the middle. a 12 year old will probably love them.

              2. Looks like folks have covered all the usual Duck highlights already, but I'll add one more possibility here. One of the few things I'll only buy at Central Market is Fresh Duck. So easy to make, just treat it like Roast Chicken. Take out the gizzards, preheat the oven to 400, kosher salt and fresh black pepper the outside, and roast just like a chicken. I'll usually get a 4 lb. Duck and roast at 325 for an hour, then check it, maybe another 15 minutes. One easy thing to do is stuff the cavity with an orange or other citrus, maybe also with herbs. Another thing I do is add other spices, like a bit of fresh roasted and ground chili, perhaps some fennel seeds or clove, and halfway through the cooking time, add some 3 inch long prepped pieces of leeks in the pan to roast for the last 30 or so minutes, perhaps basting them with the ample amount of duck fat. A like to serve duck with wild rice, cooked with dried cherries and/or cranberries, and perhaps a few roasted hazelnuts.

                14 Replies
                1. re: taliesin15

                  How much is that fresh duck. Seems like I passed on it previously because it was incredibly expensive. I used to make a light 5 spice duck with a seville orange demiglace one a year, so it would be worth it for something like that.

                  Having said that, I often wonder about the source of the ducks at chinese places. Sometimes I imagine some sort of duck concentration camp. I'd imagine that the CM duck is from a local source.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    Not sure about the source of the CM duck, but last few times I've been in there its $3.99/lb. And definitely better quality than the duck at M&T. Sometimes Whole Foods has duck, but I think its a bit pricier.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I don't recall the name of the vendor, but at the downtown farmer's market last Sat.there was a vendor that had Duck, Rabbit, Cornish Hens, Lamb, and I don't remember what else. It was all frozen, but definitely local, probably organic. I really wasn't shopping for it, so i didn't price it.

                        1. re: ieathereforeiam

                          Yes, Sebastien. From what I understand, he also supplies his goods to Olivia where I tried the duck risotto. The duck was good. I buy his chickens almost weekly. They are simply the best chicken I've ever eaten.

                          1. re: foodiegal71

                            no question. all the poultry and feral hog i've gotten from him have been excellent. I smoked a 35lb hole hog of his last month and it was superb.

                            get one of his roosters and make coq au vin. not something you can get that easily around here otherwise.

                            1. re: ieathereforeiam

                              Actually made it to the Farmers Market this morning for the first time. I passed on the duck (it was available, $6.99 lb I think) because I figured we'd eat out this weekend.

                              I made reservations for Stortini at 7 and we checked the menu online to read about the duck entree. Unfortunately when we got there, there was no duck on the menu. The wait staff seemed genuinely distressed that we'd gone to so much trouble and that their website hadn't been updated. They were very sweet and recommended La Traviata. I like La Traviata but I didn't want to brave downtown on a Saturday night with my 12 year old.

                              We soldiered on and chose Din Ho for our next duck attempt. We got there around 7:30 and they were busy but we only had to wait 10 minutes or so for a table. Sadly, I don't have much experience with authentic chinese and had no idea what to order for myself. I chose safe "beef & broccoli" and it was okay but there were some amazing smelling dishes going past. One in particular was sizzling on a fajita platter type thing - smelled heavenly, seafood maybe? My son ordered the bbq roast duck. Here's his opinion:

                              "It tastes pretty good but I think it was too much work to get to the meat. A knife would've helped. The skin was really amazing. I think that it was really gross when you go in 'cause you see some guy grab a duck and then you hear loud chopping noises (I'm glad that you don't hear a spurting sound though)."

                              1. re: mwreese

                                bummer about stortini. maybe another time. its been available when i've been there in the past.

                                1. re: ieathereforeiam

                                  The waitress said it was taken off the menu last week. She said it was a really good dish. If you look at the online menu, the duck was part of the "specialties" section. That entire section is gone from the menu now. They do still have the risotto balls which I really wanted to try. But we couldn't stay, we were on a quest for duck.

                                2. re: mwreese

                                  I like hearing the truthful review of a 12 year old - he said it in a way that many of us "adults" are unable to....

                                  Wok n Roll on Burnet, believe or not, has a good duck noodle soup.

                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    Hey, I was just going to post that--a large bowl of duck soup at Wok n Roll is dirt cheap and very tasty and filling.

                                    1. re: Dave Westerberg

                                      I was at the original Kerbey Lane last Monday or Tuesday night. I didn't try them, but the special was duck quesadillas that looked tasty.

                                      1. re: shan

                                        please review your meal at kerbey.Is it as bad as I've been led to believe?I haven't eaten there in years.

                                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                          Kerbey was quite nice. I rather enjoyed it. We hadn't been to that Kerbey for about 2 years, and I haven't been to any Kerbey for about 6-9 months. I've gotten tired of the long waits for mediocre food and stopped going. However, the husband was watch shopping and we were a couple blocks away on Monday night. So, we went in about 5:15. There were only a few people there and were seated right away.
                                          I got the Portabella Mushroom sandwich with sweet potato fries with a chipolte mayo for dipping the fries. The husband got a burger with the sweet potato fries.
                                          There are two things I really like at Kerbey: the tomato pie (in season) and sweet potato fries. I skipped the tomato pie this trip (haven't had it this year, but its usually very good) and went for a sandwich where I could get those fries.
                                          The sweet potato fries are crinkle cut and fried until crispy. Hot, fresh, and quite good. I like them better than Galaxy's I think. I used to love Galaxy's but I think they coat theirs with something now, and I don't like them as much anymore.
                                          The portabella mushroom sandwich was good with the pesto spread. It wasn't exceptional, but quite solid.
                                          The husband was raving about how good his burger was. He thought it was excellent.
                                          We left saying "we should remember this place more often for a quick meal" and that it was much better than we remembered.

                                          That said, I work at UT and I don't go to that Kerbey... ever. We had a nightmare of an experience once involving wrong entrees and a disappearing server for 20+ minutes for an admitted cigarette break on the last time I went there about 2 years ago.