Since my previous year's birthday dinner at Uzbekistan - Los Angeles was just OK, I figured I would stick closer to home and try something more familiar, but a little different as well. I've had Peking duck in Chinese restaurants before, but usually served with steamed buns.
Lu Din Gee Cafe, which also calls itself Duck House, is one of the few restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley that serve Peking duck with Mandarin pancakes, very thin flour wraps. Reservations must be made at least an hour in advance. The three-course set menu was $47 and featured the Peking duck, duck bone soup, and duck stir-fried with bean sprouts.
When I called to make the reservation, I asked if I could have lettuce cups instead of the stir-fry with bean sprouts. The person who answered the phone said yes, but on the day of, the waiter said no.
But the person I spoke to on the phone when I made the reservation said I could.
So unless you're luckier than me, that three-course menu is set.
The Peking duck accoutrements of thinly sliced scallions and cucumbers, and dipping sauce were already on the table when we arrived. I don't know about you, but I'm kinda turned off by that. I know they were expecting us because of the reservation, but I just like seeing my food come out fresh.
The Peking duck came out almost immediately.
The meat was separated from the skin.
The skin was oh so crispy, much crispier than the roast duck I get at Cantonese restaurants.
Place a piece of meat and skin onto a flour wrap, add slivers of scallions and cucumbers, drizzle a bit of sauce, and you have a Peking duck wrap.
You kinda need to do all that to get flavor. It was good, but I'll have to admit that I think that Cantonese roast duck is much more flavorful. Peking duck wins for crispier skin though.
Duck bone soup.
The milky color is achieved by boiling the bones rapidly to extract flavor, similar to how ramen is made. Just napa cabbage and tofu. A very simple soup, similar to my Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup). I think silken tofu would have been better though.
The last of the three-courses was the duck stir-fried with bean sprouts. Lil' sis loves bean sprouts so having a whole dish of them pleased her mightily. I, however, recognized it for what it was -- a way to offer an additional dish with very little cost. Tiny pieces of duck, obviously since most of it went to the Peking duck wraps, and cheap, cheap bean sprouts. A big bag of bean sprouts doesn't even cost me $1 at the grocery store. It was fine, but really, keep your expectations low.
Since there were four of us, we also opted to get the barbecued eel on sticky rice, $20.
This was actually my favorite dish of the night. I love unagi. Add it to a dish of sweet sticky rice and it was like eating sushi without having to hold myself back.
So while I like experiencing authentic Peking duck, I like the roast duck with steamed buns I get at Cantonese restaurants more. Slightly cheaper and I get my lettuce wraps. :)
This location of Duck House is now closed and another Peking duck restaurant is in its place. A sign said it was going to reopen on Las Tunas Drive in the same area as Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant, but it never did.
The Monterey Park location of Duck House, however, is open at 501 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, CA 91754, 626-284-3227.
Other restaurants to get Peking duck:
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - Alhambra
Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant - Monterey Park
Lu Din Gee Cafe (Duck House)
Eastern Pearl Catering
1039 E. Valley Blvd., B102
San Gabriel, CA 91776
1 year ago today, Vegetarian Dolmades (Greek Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Tomatoes, and Onions).
2 years ago today, Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra.