REVIEW w/ pics: Korean Clay Roasted Duck at Dha Rae Oak
When I read about a Korean Clay Roasted Duck dish on the The Glutster blog (http://theglutster.com/2011/02/korean...) written by blogger, Javier Cabral, I knew I had to check it out. Along for the ride came some of the members of my dining group. One thing to note about this restaurant is their front entrance below is generally locked. To enter Dha Rae Oak, park and/or enter through the back parking lot entrance.
When it comes to ordering the duck, you need to call the restaurant a minimum of 4 hours before your arrival. That's about how long it will take for its preparation. Also, one whole duck feeds 3 to 4 people. As for the preparation of the duck itself, it's first "stuffed with things like chewy Ogokbap (Five-Grain/beans/ “purple” Rice), whole meaty walnuts, chopped chestnuts, nutty pumpkin seeds, cooked sweet potatoes, Chinese herbs, dried fruit and probably crack", as quoted by Javier.
Then the duck is wrapped in a cheesecloth and roasted for 4 hours inside a vertical clay pot inside a 450 degree specialized Korean ceramic oven that the owner of Dha Rae Oak imported to the US. To see the clay pot and oven, please visit Javier's blog post (see link above).
Now on to our meal that started with a crunchy fresh salad and an array of panchan. The salad was nice and I liked the dressing; however, the panchan wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Everyone was also given a little plate with a sauce and salt/pepper mixture for duck dipping and with the arrival of the duck came a soup. I honestly can't tell you what's in the soup. It definitely had some greens, but a couple of spoonfuls was enough to tell me that it wasn't for me.
Soon the duck arrived and it came already unwrapped from its cheese cloth. When the duck hit the table, it didn't even seem like it had any skin intact. Apparently, in the cooking process a lot of the duck fat renders to the bottom of the pot. When I turned the plate for a side view, you ccould actually take a first glimpse of that sticky purple rice that is one of the ingredients the duck is stuffed with. Finally, our server splits open the duck and you could see all the glory inside. Amazing!
Then we all started eating into it. The duck was tender and I enjoyed its lean flavors. Part of the appeal of duck meat is its fattiness, but I didn't really miss it in this particular duck preparation. I think it had to do with the filling that included quite a lot of nuts and seeds like the walnuts, pumpkin seeds and chestnuts. They added some fat back. The addition of the sweet potatoes and dried fruit brought in some sweetness, but the Chinese herbs rounded all the flavors.
Overall, it was a pretty tasty dish and not much went to waste. However, even though I liked this dish, I did miss having crispy duck skin. Other than that, if you're a duck lover, the Korean Clay Roasted Duck at Dha Rae Oak is definitely a new experience worth trying.
Dha Rae Oak
1106 Western Ave.
Los Angeles CA. 90006
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