A Pleasant Surprise - Peking Duck House Midtown
As usual, full review with photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
Peking Duck House has two locations. One in Chinatown and one in Midtown in the 50s on the East side. As can be expected, the prices vary between the two outposts, and they're upfront about it on their website. For this meal, we went to the one in Midtown, and I was pleasantly surprised with the food.
We started with chopped chicken and pine nut lettuce wraps. This was okay and served its purpose. The predominant flavor was that of soy, which is fine in small enough doses.
Next came our whole duck, carved tableside. The skin was nice and crisp, but not the best I've had. What I did like though, was that the carver pulled the meat at the end of each slice, allowing only tender meat to come onto the plate. There was still a good amount of meat left on the carcass and I don't know what they did with it. The order of Peking duck does not come with any other preparations or duck soup.
The thing I really liked was the expertly-trained server who made perfect wraps for us in a quick and efficient manner. This is a skill that this "old hand" had clearly perfected, much like a server deboning a dover sole tableside at a French restaurant. There wasn't too much sauce and every wrap was satisfying. The plate of duck resulted in 9 wraps.
Moving on to the entrees, we had a pretty good version of chicken with cashews. The red and green peppers were perfect to give the dish a nice balance.
The Grand Marnier prawns were nice and big, although they seemed especially big due to the specific butterflied shape that they fried them in. The sauce was, very importantly, not too sweet.
One of my favorite things to eat at Chinese restaurants growing up in NYC was pan fried whole flounder. This was a very good version, with a light yet crisp fried exterior giving way to delicate soft flesh.
Overall it was a satisfying meal and a pleasant surprise for the neighborhood. The prices are high, but that is to be expected. Considering the abundance of extremely overpriced, ghastly Americanized Chinese restaurants such as Mr. Chow, Mr. K's, Philippe Chow, etc. it was nice to find a place with great food at a comparable level of comfort, decor, and service.
Peking Duck House
236 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022
Thanks for the report. It sounds like the Midtown location is better than the Chinatown branch. I was thoroughly unimpressed by the Chinatown Peking Duck House when I went for the duck. The decor was non-existent, service was minimal, and tables were cramped (not to mention the super fatty duck with flabby skin, ugh).
I read the review on your blog where you mentioned that you like the duck meat better at Peking Duck House but prefer the overall duck at Chinatown Brasserie simply because CB's version has better skin. I totally agree re. both the meat being better at PDH and the overall duck better at CB, since a proper peking duck is all about a great lacquered and crisped skin with fully rendered fat.
Though, not sure I like the fact the servers at Peking Duck House Midtown wrap the duck for you. A big part of the fun for me is making the duck wraps myself. But I guess this eliminates the problem of customers turning everything into ghastly peking duck burritos, lol. In Beijing, the servers simply demonstrate the proper way to wrap the duck first, then leave you alone to do the rest.
380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012
Peking Duck House
28 Mott St, New York, NY 10013