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Questions about Duck House on Christmas Day

  • m

We live in Pasadena and need a spot for dinner for our family of four on Christmas. Rather than go to a hotel, Peking duck seemed like a great idea and rather festive so I made a reservation at the Duck House in Monterey Park.

I've read some mixed reviews on Yelp about the Duck House. Should I be worried? In particular, that the Peking duck skin is delicious, but the meat is rather flavorless and often served cold. Also some criticism that they urge you to overorder. When I made the reservation they asked if we wanted duck and I said yes and they said 'a whole duck?' and I said 'uh, okay' knowing I'd ask you Chowies!

Anyone been recently and/or any advice as to how to order the duck for 4 people? Thanks!

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    1. Years ago I had Peking duck when it was Lu Din Gee.
      If I remember and most places I've had some kind of Peking duck, the rest of the duck is usually served at room temperature and not cold. I've never had any duck meat that has been flavorless.

      1. Get the Peking Duck done 3 ways, which includes a stir fry as well as a duck soup. You won't regret it.

        And, as a Chowhound, what's wrong with over ordering? There are definitely worse things in life than being left with too much food.

        The stuffed nappa cabbage dish (i.e. Treasure Island Chest in English translation) is also very good, at least it was when it was Lu Din Gee.

        Enjoy your visit.

        Enjoy your meal.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Duck Soup was the best Marx Brother's movie.

          1. re: monku

            Thanks everybody. Looking forward to a non-traditional Christmas dinner.

          2. re: ipsedixit

            What's stuffed in there. I guess I gotta go to duck house too? Thanks for reminding me. Also, anyone know there's still a joint to get those wares in the vein of Quanjude???

            Thanks a bunch.

          3. A brief report after our Christmas Day dinner. We had 4 people w/reservations at 5. The restaurant never got full so perhaps reservations not necessary.

            The positive. The food was good and the service was excellent. Three of us had the basic duck presentation and my daughter ordered Kung Pao Chicken which was wonderful. As advertised the duck skin was delish.

            It sounds like I have a lot of negatives which I might put down to not being Peking duck experts. When we arrived there were only a couple of parties seated and they sat us at a round table for 6 right by the front door which was an awkward configuration for 4 and really drafty. They said the other tables were for reservations, but soon after they moved us to a table for 4 right by a back door that led to covered outside seating. The outside area wasn't being used, but staff kept using that door so our table was downright cold.

            Because we'd preordered our duck it arrived immediately after our drinks arrived with a long wait - maybe 25 mins - for the Kung Pao Chicken. So the 3 of us ate our duck skins and tried to kill time before the 4th person's food arrived which was a little uncomfortable. We'd have rather had everything served at once, but didn't know the drill so we couldn't make this request when we ordered. Thus, the duck meat was cold - and again - maybe I don't know Peking duck - but pretty bland.

            It sounds like this was a negative review, but I think if we'd had this information in advance we could have proceeded more intelligently - certainly ordered the Duck 3 Ways as the stir fry prep looked good. Again, the service was very friendly and accomodating. Next year I think we'll try for a more attractive, festive spot in Monterey Park that might be more Christmas-y. Thanks for everyone's advice.

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

            Kung Pao Restaurant
            4911 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

            18 Replies
            1. re: mocro

              I'm a bit baffled by this statement:

              "So the 3 of us ate our duck skins and tried to kill time before the 4th person's food arrived which was a little uncomfortable."

              You realize this is family style, right? So the restaurant isn't going to serve all the dishes at once in a typical setting where each person orders an entree. At a typical Chinese banquet style restaurant (or any Chinese restaurant except for maybe Hong Kong style cafes), the entrees are usu. served in succession -- i.e. one after the other usually with some lag time. The idea is that everyone at the table will share in each of the dishes ordered.

              So, in your case, I"m guessing the restaurant was assuming the entire table would be partaking in the duck, and then when the chicken was served, everyone would again partake in the chicken, so at the end of the night, everyone at the table would have partook of the duck and chicken.

              Re: the duck meat. Did you eat it with the pancakes, with a piece of duck skin, some hoisin (or oyster or duck) sauce and some green onions? So that you make a little duck burger out of the meat? That's usu. how the duck meat is eaten.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                As I said, if we'd been more familiar with the restaurant we would have managed the whole process better. We had told them that only 3 of us were having the duck so that led me to believe they would have brought the dishes out together. And yes, we had the duck meat w/the pancake & hoisin sauce but perhaps would have had a better outcome if we hadn't waited so long to eat it. We'll do better next time.

                1. re: mocro

                  As I said, if we'd been more familiar with the restaurant we would have managed the whole process better.
                  ________________________

                  Just for future purposes, just about all Chinese restaurants are family style.

                  1. re: mocro

                    It sounds like you had some unfamiliarity issues.

                    You are buying a whole duck; when you buy the whole duck, it's best to order dishes that would use as much of the duck as possible.

                    The skin is always served first, wrapped up in thin crêpes with sauce. The duck meat itself may be eaten burrito-style, or may be stir-fried with sprouts. It's best to ask for the bones to be made into soup (sometimes with glass noodles, sometimes with tofu, sometimes—rarely—with coagulated duck's blood). Sometimes you can order run chang, which is duck liver sausage, or jie mo ya zhang (cold duck's webs with fiery hot Chinese mustard). How much you order is up to you.

                    As ipsedixit said, all Chinese restaurants save mall food-court combo-plate Chinese-American places serve everything family-style. The duck is always prepared in advance (hence the advance notice required) and yes, sometimes it's tepid.

                    For what it's worth, I think the Beijing kao ya (Peking duck) at Tri Village in Irvine is superior to Duck House.

                    -----
                    Tri Village
                    14121 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92620

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Funny I just saw your posting of the duck house for xmas dinner. We also had a table for 4 + baby that i reserved 10 days before xmas. then some friends wanted to join and we called the xmas morning to see if we could add 3 more people to our table and they said NO! So we assumed that it was going to be super busy. Our reservation was for 5:30. we get there, restaurant is 3/4 empty. We were there until 7pm and then it was just starting to fill up, but a corner of the restaurant was completely empty the whole time we were there. the duck did not seem as tasty as the last time i was there. i think quality is always compromised when dining in a restaurant on xmas. the skin had a nice shiny lacquer, but maybe they had too many inexperienced carvers or just doing too many ducks, there was a lot of fat that was underneath the skin making the skin just very chewy and not crispy like we all dream about. the meat was bland, but the hoisen sauce helps a lot. the stir fried sprouts with a very little bit of meat was a good veg dish, cause most of the meat was on the main dish. we did not get the soup. we had it last time and we didn't care for it. instead they packed up the carcass for us and mom took it home to make duck congee. i'm sure she's enjoying it tonight.
                      we had several other dishes that they recommended, most of them rather salty. I think really the best thing was the very friendly service.
                      It's hard for me to say if i would recommend people going there for duck. maybe i would try it out one more time on a non holiday to give it a better rating.

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

                      1. re: foodmor

                        We must have been there at the same time. I completely agree that it's not wholly fair to judge a place on a holiday, but our experience was similar to yours. We also were surprised it was so empty - even early - on Christmas. That made the experience a bit less festive.

                        And thanks ipsedixit, I do realize most Chinese restaurants serve family style. What I meant when I said we were unfamiliar with this restaurant's MO, is that we ddn't realize the duck would be served simultaneously with our drinks. And as we told our server one person in our party did not eat duck, we might have thought they'd have brought the other dish out more quickly. No way to fault the staff though. They were uniformly good natured.

                        1. re: mocro

                          Ah... when you called and asked for the duck at, say, 6:30, they meant to serve the duck at 6:30. When I take people out for duck, I ask them to meet me at, say, 6, and then order the duck for 6:30. Otherwise, if people are late, the quality of the duck goes down dramatically.

                      2. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Mmm. Now is there anywhere to get Duck Liver Sausage?

                        1. re: kevin

                          You just have to ask if they have it. Sometimes they do, sometimes they can have it as a special order, and sometimes it's "no!".

                          Not the biggest fan, as I said...

                          1. re: kevin

                            Cozy Cafe sometimes has it, as does SinBaLa.

                            Both in the same strip mall in Arcadia.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              sorry i lost the thread part, is this in regards to getting some of the duck liver sausage?

                              thanks. cool, i no where sin ba la is, it's like right behind din tai fung in arcadia. that sounds like a good lunch, din tain fung followed by sinbala. or vice versa.

                              -----
                              sinbala
                              pasadena,CA, pasadena, CA

                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                            You are buying a whole duck; when you buy the whole duck,

                            ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            I don't think you're getting the "whole" duck when you get it at the Duck House.The amount of boneless duck meat that's served wth the skin is far from being all the meat from a whole duck.

                            Now I've never ordered the three-way duck, but my thinking is you'd get the main Peking duck presentation with the boneless duck meat, but where are they getting the rest of the duck meat to make the stir fry and duck soup? They must be "cannibalizing" the duck meat from people only ordering Peking duck and using the rest of the meat for the stir fry and duck soup.
                            I've had Peking duck at other restaurants and the duck meat presented is way more than what they give you at the Duck House.

                             
                            1. re: monku

                              I agree about the cannibalisation, but when I say you're ordering the whole duck I mean that it's not a per-seat price but a per-duck price you pay.

                              When Duck House / Lu Din Gee was the only choice, it was sufficient (but not nearly as good as Quanjude, where you really did buy the WHOLE duck and the staff would act incredulous if all you wanted was the burritos).

                              I really much prefer Tri Village, both in attitude and in value.

                              -----
                              Tri Village
                              14121 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92620

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          i might sound like a broken record: but is this the place that used to be lu din gee, aka pearl catering on it's website?

                          if even just the duck skin is delicious and crisp, even if the meat is bland, i'm still so there, its all about the skin to me.

                          can a single diner go there for duck three ways, and if not? then how many people would the duck 3 ways serve?

                          and the joint called Quanjude closed years ago, is that correct?

                          on a side note, not to steal this thread, but is there any joint that serves Smoked Pompref a la charming gardens in the SGV/ also what ever became of Charming Garden?

                          thanks. a bunch.

                          1. re: kevin

                            Yes, Duck House nee Lu Din Gee. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7497...

                            Of course you can go solo and order the duck 3 ways. You'll either be stuffed, or go home with lots of leftovers. No one is going to stop you from (over)ordering whatever you want.

                            RE: Quanjude. Closed almost a decade ago, at least the one in Rosemead.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              The duck soup alone is enough for 12 people. LOL

                              Didn't see this thread until now but the fried rice is also noteworthy.

                            2. re: kevin

                              I don't think the name has changed, even if ownership has. It's still 鹿鼎记 (Lu4 Ding3 Ji4). However, the English translation is now "Duck House".

                              1. re: will47

                                You're right !..........My iPhone "Maps" app says Lu Din Gee Cafe or Duck House in English is the same address.