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Jul 1, 2012 08:19 AM

Sweet and Sour Pressed Almond Duck

Now that Yet Wah has closed where would one find a similar rendition of their sweet and sour almond duck? Yet Wah had the finest rendition of that of other places I've been, in fact most Chinese restaurants with the exception of the Empress of China don't even make it. Help would be appreciated.

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  1. I've never had sweet and sour pressed duck, but as a nipper on the east coast I remember fondly a dish called pressed duck which we got at Bali Hai "Polynesian Restaurant" in Wakefield, Mass. It was boneless and fried till crunchy on the outside but unctuous in the middle. I have seen it on occasion in The City, but have always been disappointed in that it was barely duck and mostly something gummy-pasty (taro root?). I'd also like some insight into its conspicuous absence on local menus. I really loved it.

    14 Replies
    1. re: little big al

      Empress of China is not bad but Yet Wah had it to perfection. It is possible tht in their other restaurant they will have it. I haven't searched out their menu yet on the internet. If nothing else the Empress has a nice bar and very good potstickers as I recall. A good double scotch, straight, and some Chinese appetizers have always been high on my list, and when you move into the dining room you get a great view of the city.

      1. re: little big al

        Yet Wah in San Rafael serves the almond pressed duck. Since, as far as I know, it is the same ownership it should be right up there amongst the finest I've ever had. Menu on the internet looks really good. If you go there please post back. Happy duckling.

        1. re: Hughlipton

          here's a list - I wonder if it's current -
          Yet Wah on Clement Street and Kam's on Balboa have closed. Is King Wah in Oakland also closed?
          The recipe for War Shu Opp is labor intensive and requires a duck press.

          1. re: Cynsa

            For a dish I might make once or twice in my lifetime, and forgetting the labor intensive part of your comment, the cost of a duck press is damnable. Amazon shows one at over $2100. Guess what though, they'll ship it for free. I think I could do several trips to the Bay area to eat at Yet Wah in San Rafael or at the Empress of China and throw in a couple of more dinners at just the cost of the duck press. Thanks for the thought though.

            1. re: Hughlipton

              A "duck press" is used for a French preparation in which the cooked duck carcass is pressed (at very high pressure) to extract all the juices:

              I think you'll only get this dish at very high-end French restaurants.

              The Chinese pressed duck is quite a different dish and does not require a heavy-duty press. The "gummy-pasty" texture comes from the cornstarch that is mixed with the cooked duck.

              I seem to recall a notice on a restaurant window in Oakland Chinatown -- a few weeks ago -- advertising pressed duck. I think it was a place on Webster between 8th and 9th, could have been Golden Peacock -- next door to the (closed) Silver Dragon
              but I can't be sure. It's not listed on their on-line menu. I've never eaten there.

              Here's a recipe -- but I suspect that lower-end Chinese places just use leftover cooked duck meat.

              1. re: Joel

                Agreed there is special equipment need for making this Chinese dish expect for a square mold and a weight to press the duck down to form shape.

                This dish was first created to use left over duck and chicken. Not hard to make expect for the deep frying.

                1. re: Joel

                  I recall seeing the sign at Golden Peacock also. Hung To Yee Won Ton was on it also and a few others that I can';t remember.

                  Always wondered how that place stayed in business.

            2. re: Hughlipton

              Pressed duck in the Bay area puts me in mind of the Analogy of The Cave in Phil.101. Each variant I've had is like a mere shade cast on the wall by the real fritz passing in front of the fire.On Hughliptons advice, I went into Yet Wah while passing through San Rafael , and while it is the best I've had locally, it's still lacking. It featured pretty thick slabs of boneless duck (maybe 1/2 inch) smeared on one side with a mysterious orangey paste and fried, with some atrocious ,viscous, "sweet and sour" sauce served (mercifully) on the side (this was take-out).
              Thus encouraged, I resolved to investigate the possibilities at Trader Vic's the next time business brought me to Emeryville, since it was a staple of "Polynesian" restaurants, and it was mentioned on their on line menu. Skunked. Went in, sat down asked about it,and was told they haven't had it "for a long time". I went to the Public Market to drown my disappointment in some not quite first rate Korean BBQ. At least I still have Paris, or at least, Wakefield (see earlier post).

              1. re: little big al

                War Su Opp take-out from Yet Wah/San Rafael: nine squares of pressed duck about 1-inch by 1-inch on top of sweet pickled cabbage, small container of chopped roasted peanuts for garnish, and container of jelled sweet orange sauce. Deconstructed components - warning: do not eat as separate components. I microwaved the minced duck cubes to heat with the orange jell. Sprinkled on chopped peanut garnish. The jellied sauce stayed solid, did not melt into anything resembling food. The sum is greater than its parts; it is strangely compelling, but not quite good.
                As long as I was traveling down this garden path; I also ordered Tomato Beef Chow Mein for another take-out dish craving. lol goodness; this is one of those I-am-embarrassed-to-admit-that-I-eat. What's the other? Shrimp Egg Fu Yong. Must be some childhood longings?

                1. re: Cynsa

                  " strangely compelling, but not quite good."
                  Best review phrase of the year!
                  We eat there quite often and know exactly what you mean! And we'll keep going ...

            3. re: little big al

              Famous Almond Pressed Duck - on the menu at the Yet Wah in San Rafael for $13.95

              also on the set dinner for $17 pp:
              Country Village Dinner

              1. re: little big al

                Another ex-pat from Pats territory here and that Bali Hai almond duck is one of my very favorite dishes of all time. I think the last time I had it was 10-12 years ago, it was amazing... what a great place that is, although it might just be the scorpion bowl talking here... they never used to card. Oh the memories.

                1. re: lakemerritter

                  I presume you are tlaking about the Bali Hai on Shelter Island. I scoped the menu on their website and they no longer do pressed duck. I just found out, however, that Su Hong has pressed duck. Don't know if it's in sweet and sour sauce but I believe it would be.

                  1. re: Hughlipton

                    No, that would be a different Bali Hai--the one I and "little big al" are fond of is located on the North Shore in Massachusetts. Didn't do a web search for my last post, but here it is...


                    Right off of I-95! Not known for great food but that duck dish has always been my order there.

              2. Gloria Miller, in 1000 Recipe Chinese Cookbook, has a totally do-able, quite authentic recipe. No duck press needed.

                5 Replies
                  1. re: stanbee

                    I found the book on my search engine and went to a PDF file. I did not find anything that approximated almond duck. Maybe "Hand" can give me more guidance.

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          How very odd. I cannot guess why the recipe is not in the PDF version of Miller's book. My copy of the real book is in storage, but Cynsa'a link does affirm that the book does contain the recipe. Another reason to treasure real books.

                          The duck was very time-consuming to produce, but fun, and very delicious.

                1. I cannot make comparison with legendary Yet Wah Mandarin Pressed Duck, but I do like the dish served at Su Hong Eatery in Palo Alto. Any other restaurants in South Bay or lower Peninsula?

                  1. Has anyone tried the sweet and sour pressed duck at Yat Sing? Or eaten anything at the two locations in Redwood City,

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I stopped by Yat Sing in Redwood City the other day - ordered it, sat down and several minutes later got told it was not available. I asked some questions as to whether it could be "special ordered" but couldn't get a definitive answer. Maybe someone else will have better luck. I really had my hopes up too...

                      1. re: RWCFoodie

                        Appreciate you giving it a shot. Which of the two Redwood City locations?

                        Did you try anything else or just leave?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          The Woodside Plaza location off Woodside Road.

                          I ordered some spicy dry fried green beans and "ants climbing a tree". When they told me the duck was unavailable, I tried to cancel the whole order but was told that the other dishes had been prepared already. So I went ahead and got them. Big mistake. Probably the worst Chinese food I have ever been served - and that includes Panda Express and Safeway! They were abominable. The green beans included some that were obviously old, tough, stringy, etc. with lots of raw garlic and slices of jalapeno pepper. The "ants climbing a tree" was the worst ever. Clumps of over-cooked mung bean noodles, no ground pork, virtually no spice, just a total mess - no resemblance to the real dish.

                          I should have just left but felt guilty that they'd already made the other dishes...

                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                            Yow! And now we cross off Yat Sing and all its progeny, successors and assigns.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Today after working out with my group I was invited to lunch and since I was not driving I have no choice of where we would eat. So Yat Sing was the choice of the driver. Not the hot bed of great Chinese you get whatever in RWC.

                              I ordered the daily special which was nothing to write about, but I did found out about the pressed duck. I seems the owner/chef works at the older Yat Sing located in Menlo Park comes by once in a while and makes this dish and only does so when the need comes up. They had in stock today and was told the if you want it you can call ahead to make sure they have it. I did not order it since it is not one of my favorites, and for me I like the one from Tao Tao in Sunnyvale in the day.

                    2. Barbara Tropp's :The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" has a recipe for this dish, which she calls "Birthday Duck." At four+ pages it seems exhaustive (and somewhat exhausting).