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Duck House - Monterey Park - Review with PHOTOS

PHOTOS: http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2010/...

Logic dictates that if you want to eat the best Peking duck, you need to go to where discriminating palates demand the best out of their Chinese delicacies: The San Gabriel Valley.

And according my discriminating friend Kenny (who lives in SGV), and Jonathan Gold, a guy trusted for his discriminating tastes, the place to get Peking duck is Duck House. Gold lauded it back in 2006 when it was called Lu Din Gee. He rhapsodized that their version was "fragrant wisps of air-dried, roasted skin, rubbed with aromatics, brittle as spun sugar, folded into thin wheat crepes with a dab of fermented bean sauce and a few shreds of scallion, and eaten as a sort of ethereal taco."

So I heeded their tips and found that Duck House is otherwise and essentially a Taiwanese restaurant, serving mostly subtle dishes like shrimp stir-fried with scallops, corn nibblets, and diced translucent jelly called konjac. The latter are slippery bits of starch that are near impossible to pick up with chopsticks. We also tried elastically resilient fried squid balls filled with fish roe. You dip 'em in a sweet and sour sauce, and balance their chewiness and decadance with an order of some sort of veggie.

But of course, there's the duck ($32 and change for the basic model).

First of all, before I go on, I will address the obvious: No, Taiwan isn't known for its Peking duck (duh). But this place doesn't care so much about being geographically accurate. And neither does its customers.

Everyone orders the duck. This despite the fact that the waiters give you dire warnings that the bird takes an hour to prepare. I must tell you, however, that even after they told us and we agreed to wait, the platter came out scarcely minutes after said we wanted it. It's like they knew!

And when it's brought out, the mahogany brown of the skin's wispy crispiness makes your mouth water at the mere sight of it. In the middle of the plate in a neat greyish mound is the duck meat. The whole dish is literally elevated above everything else you might order. The platter is set atop a bowl full of hot water, which I assume is used to prevent the whole thing from congealing and reverting back to the room temperature fattiness from whence it came.

To eat it, you take a crepe-like wrapper they provide (which is not unlike the most delicate flour tortilla you've ever seen) a piece of skin, a piece of meat, shredded scallion and cucumber, and finally a drizzle of their fermented bean sauce, from which most of the flavor comes from. You fold it up, and you do, in fact, eat it like a taco.

Was it the best Peking duck I ever ate? Why yes. But admittedly I haven't eaten that many. Most have been lackluster, chewy things. This was not. The skin is a thin, lovely shimmer of itself, rendered completely of fat and crisp like it was imitating a potato chip. But honestly, I'm a pork skin kind of a guy. I like my animal hides to have some heft, some rock-my-teeth crunch. Duck skin is a tease.

Compare them to a Chinese roasted pig, or Filipino lechon, and the water fowl skin seems like a lightweight. It's like O'Douls next to a pint of Guinness. A Lay's chip next to a Kettle Brand. William Baldwin next to Alec Baldwin. You get the idea.

Duck House
(626) 284-3227
501 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754

PHOTOS: http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2010/...

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Duck House (Lu Ding Ji
)501 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

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  1. so duck house is just the new name for lu ding ji?
    great. do they still sell imperial snacks as well? they were the best after quanjude closed. the fact that they're now selling konjac and other things might mean they're on their last legs. quanjude started selling abalone and shark fin at the end to cater to cantonese and tawianese clientele.
    so it doesn't bode well. when lu din ji was on valley, it was a much more limited menu.

    still beggars can't be...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jerome

      My only regret is I never got a chance to try its last incarnation to do a comparison. This sounds like a job for Jerome!

      http://monstermunching.com

    2. Do they offer additional preparations? I'm a big fan of the soup preparation with the bones.

      5 Replies
      1. re: huaqiao

        Yes they do! I didn't get it because, well, my small party could barely finish the dishes we ordered.

        http://monstermunching.com

        1. re: elmomonster

          Duck 3 ways is definitely the way to go. See below. I actually like the soup and meat sauteed with bean sprouts more than the duck with crepes. You can make it duck 4 ways if you order the tongue/jowl. Also delicious.

          1. re: Porthos

            And a fifth way if you order 芥末鴨掌 (jie mo ya zhang), or cold duck's webs with Chinese mustard. Unbelievably good.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              This blogger got marinated duck wings 滷鴨翅 (mid joint), and appears to have been comp'd.

              http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/Ellen-Cuis...

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Oh man, I've been looking for that dish! Thanks again, DU!

        2. Chinese name of the place is 鹿鼎記烤鴨專賣店 (especially emphasizing their roast duck specialty)

          I found their website:

          http://www.pearlcatering.com/monterey...

          From their online menu (also answering huaqiao's question

          )

          烤鴨一吃 :荷葉餅夾烤鴨
          Roast Peking Duck with Thin Pancake, Shredded $32.95
          2 烤鴨二吃 : 荷葉餅夾烤鴨 之外 可任選銀芽鴨絲 或 白菜豆腐鴨架湯
          Roast Peking Duck in two ways (Choose either Stir-Fried Bean Sprout with Duck Meat or Duck Bone Soup) $40.95
          3 烤鴨三吃: 荷葉餅夾烤鴨, 銀芽鴨絲, 白菜豆腐鴨架湯
          Roast Peking Duck in three ways (Including Stir-Fried Bean Sprout with Duck Meats & Duck Bones Soup) *每隻烤鴨均附12張荷葉餅, 如需增加每份12張$5.95 白菜豆腐鴨架湯只可續湯一次敬請見諒* $47.95
          Each Duck comes with 12 pancakes. Additional pancakes $5.95 per order. Duck Soup can refill one time as courtesy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: K K

            It looks like their menu did not change when Lu Din Gee reincarnated itself as Duck House. Seems pretty much the same, or maybe I'm missing something.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              No idea....but this place based on the website's picture gallery of the food and menu versatility, seems pretty kickarse...reminds me of this neigborhood Northern/北平 style Taiwanese banquet hall eatery in Yongho Taipei I went to two years ago, minus the sour cabbage hotpots and the fact Duck House kicks it up a notch with high end Taiwanese banquet seafood like Buddha Jumps Wall, abalone, and other fun looking seafood preps.

              The Chinese blogger's pic of the duck soup 白菜豆腐鴨架湯 looks good but if they used sour cabbage, I suspect it would be a lot more fun (which I'm sure the restaurant can do with advanced notice/request).

              1. re: K K

                No sour cabbage (at least not at Lu Din Gee).

                Northern Restaurant (also in SGV) offers a pretty spectacular lamb hot pot with sour cabbage -- free refills too (soup and cabbage only, however).

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