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Anyone ever buy a Whole Roast Duck in Chinatown? ISO advice and recommendations

  • v

For Easter this year, we are going into LA's downtown Chinatown for dim sum for breakfast and then buying a whole duck (the ones hanging in the windows) for Easter Dinner. No one in our family has ever bought one of these before, so I have a few questions:

1. Is there a place that is THE place to get a whole duck? One that is particularly better than the others? What places do you recommend, and what should we look for?

2. Once bought, should I refrigerate it (it will be served about 5-6 hours later) or just leave it on the counter? How does it get re-heated without drying out, or should it be served room temp?

3. Are there any traditional sides we should be making? Right now the plan is stuffing and sweet-and-sour chard (I have a great recipe for this). I'm totally open to suggestions.

As always, thanks for your incredible insight and help!

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  1. Lots of places have them. I like the duck at Hong Kong Bbq(formerly Sam Woo). I think they're about $17 for a whole duck. You should decide if you want to take it whole or have them chop it in almost bite sized pieces.

    You can serve at room temperature or heat it in the oven. I don't know how many you're serving but it's almost a side dish on it's own because there isn't as much meat as you may think. If it were a main dish (like serving a turkey) you'd maybe serve 3 people and that's it.
    Compare it to a Costco roast chicken the duck will have less meat.

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    Sam Woo Cafe
    727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    1. If by some chance you are going to have dim sum at CBS, they have a togo section where roast duck is at par with the others. That way you hit 2 birds with one stone and don't have to deal with parking problems.

      1. Chinatown is a pretty desolate place to find good roast duck. That said, I would go to either Lucky Deli or Empress Pavilion.

        You can leave the duck out at room temp for 5 or 6 hours without reheating and should be fine.

        As far as accourtrements, you can always go the traditional Peking Duck route with scallions, hoisin (or oyster) sauce and mantou pockets, or do somethind adventerous and pair it with a nice chopped salad of cucumbers, asaparagus, tomatoes and jicama.

        14 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I don' t recall Empress Pavillion having roast ducks at their dim sum take out, you'd have to order it to go from the restaurant.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Have you ever tried to order anything to go from Empress Pavilion? Five'll get you ten it'll go straight through dismissive, cold waiter to an all-out shouting match.

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              Empress Pavilion Restaurant
              988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Never had a problem.

                That said, I've never tried it during dim sum hours.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                They want $30 for their whole Peking duck. I had it once when it was like $25 and didn't think it was that memorable.
                http://www.empresspavilion.com/specia...

            2. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit -- re: Chinatown = desolate; is there a better place to get a roast duck (Arcadia, etc.?) If there's a substantial difference in quality, we might be up for making a Sunday drive.

              1. re: VJA

                Sam Woo BBQ in Monterey Park sells more ducks than any place I've seen. Almost every table in the dining room is eating roast duck in one form or another. Roast duck wonton noodles, side of roast duck or roast duck on rice plate. They do a brisk business in the take out section selling roast duck. Some reason the take out section lists the duck as "Peking Duck". Take a peak in the kitchen and you will see dozens of ducks hanging to dry.
                Whole duck will run $18.

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                Sam Woo Cafe
                727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                1. re: VJA

                  In SGV your options are aplenty.

                  Sam Woo BBQ in Alhambra (Valley and Sixth St.)
                  Sam Woo in the Focus Plaza
                  Lu Din Gee www.pearlcatering.com
                  Blue Ocean (corner of Valley and Garfield)

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    FWIW, I thought the Sam Woo on Valley has gone a bit downhill the last couple of times we went. We've reverted back to the one on Garvey and Chandler for our duck and bbq pork take out. The Valley one seemed to have gotten less juicy and the skin not as flavorful.

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                    Sam Woo Cafe
                    727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Quick question...is Lucky Deli still open? Haven't been back since it was closed down which was a while back. According to the LA Times survey, they had the best roast duck in LA. Sam Woo has pretty good duck and Yum Cha is fairly decent in LA Chinatown. I found the tastiest duck (and a little cheaper too) at Duong Son in Little Saigon on Bolsa to be my favorite.

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                  Sam Woo Cafe
                  727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  Duong Son
                  9081 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                  1. re: Clinton

                    Could be wrong but I think Lucky Deli is gone.

                      1. re: monku

                        Thanks. I rarely go back to LA Chinatown since they closed a while back. They were the last place to buy large char siu baos similar to Hong Kong Low which also closed down a while back. I know Phoenix Bakery sells the same type of baos but it's just not the same as well as price-wise. May have to check it out again some day but only on Sundays when parking is free on the street. They also raised the parking meter rates for weekdays and Saturdays...ha, ha every penny counts.

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                        Phoenix Bakery
                        969 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA

                        1. re: Clinton

                          Believe Phoenix Bakery bought out Hong Kong Low and selling their char Sui bao at the bakery.

                          Best place for baked char sui bao is Family Pastry on Spring St. Near Ord. Big, meaty and only 65 cents. They're open 7:00am, 7 days a week. Easy free parking before 8am.

                3. I've run the gamut of take-out chinatown duck and for price and quality CBS seems to be the way to go.

                  I'm also partial to Lien Ho (cambodian-chinese takeout on Broadway) but I think the duck was a couple bucks more there and the difference was negligible.

                  Oh, by the way. Make SURE you get a duck from the racks hanging out front. If you order it somewhere not next to a steam tray they will get it from the back for you and charge you the restaurant eat-in price - around $5 more.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mrgreenbeenz

                    Hate to say but I've run the gamut too and never noticed a big difference that would knock my socks off with any roast ducks from any particular place. That being said I think the whole roast duck at Yum Cha Cafe is around $13. Pretty good chance they're all using the same ducks.

                  2. Lucky Deli on Broadway is my favorite in that area. Their roast pork is really good, too.