Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Fond Farewell Mixed with an Experimental Dish @ Duck House - Lu Din Gee (Monterey Park)

A short age ago, I made a friend with this young man named Greg who at the time was aspiring to become a chef. We bonded and discussed about anything from everyday life to different cultures that is in our presence. I guess I was a little bit sadden that he decided to make a different journey by traveling back home to Pennsylvania in one short year after we met.

So with that in mind, a few of us decided to have a farewell dinner for Greg at a restaurant of his choice. I gave him a few options, but for the life of me, I don't know why I included this restaurant that I have not visited before. Sure enough, Greg decided to pick a restaurant I have not scouted beforehand for his bon voyage.

The Duck House or Lu Din Gee as some people referred as, was a off branch from the same location in Valley Blvd (RIP - closed as they relocated to a new location in Las Tunas Dr). One of the big feature about coming here was their famous Peking Duck. Before going in, you do have to make a reservation in ordering the duck one hour ahead of time. I guess they are keeping tabs of the amount of people and table needed. More importantly they wanted to make sure that they have enough poultry in stock and wouldn't want to oversell a dish.

There are a few items listed in their menu online that does required a few days notice. In fact, a story was conveyed to me that they would need a credit card payment in advance if there is more than 4 items ordered. So do keep that in mind when you decide to order multiple dishes or have a large party.

The number you have to call for advance order

This 2nd branch located off Atlantic Blvd is bustling with youngsters on Friday night when we attended dinner that night. It gave me the impression that dinner is served here first before going off to their late night engagement at a bar/dance club/lounge fare as they are dressed appropriately in their attires. Maybe the Valley Blvd location is more for the old foggies.

Once we placed the order for the Peking Duck, we do get an option of either letting it stand alone, or we can either add a soup or stir fried bean sprouts. The third option is to add both items to go with the duck, but we were warned by one of our tablemates to ignore the stir fried bean sprouts as it was deemed unnecessary.

The Duck Bone Soup has a very milky texture and a bit of creamy taste to the flavor. There is no meat to the soup as it was more a cleanser to your palate before the duck was about to arrive. They do give one free refill of the soup when you ordered it with the roast Peking Duck.

Duck Bone Soup

The main attraction of roast Peking Duck comes in a beautiful arrangement of meat separated from the crispy skin. They also put aside the sauce and the garnish for the construction of your very own roast duck taco with 12 thin pancakes included for this set. Keep in mind about this, it will cost you $5.95 for each additional set of 12 thin pan cakes and you will order two additional sets as we have done. It was mind boggling because we spend almost $12 extra because the amount of pancakes provided was not enough for the order of one plate of duck.

Roast Peking Duck ($38.95 with the Duck Bone Soup - Two Way)

Here's a quick guide of eating the Peking Duck with the pancake:

First, you have place the thin pan cake in the center of the plate openly

Second, place the Hoisin Sauce right in the middle of the pancake

Third, place a few garnish of spring onion flowerets around the sauce

Then place a few duck meat and skin on top of it and fold in half

Voila! It's that simple to construct and eat the duck with the pancake. It was a consider a national treat back in the old days. One of the features I liked about the Duck House's version of the roast Peking duck was that it was not dry and very tender when it was presented at our table. The skin was also very crispy and not flaky. You'll be surprised on how many restaurants cannot served a simple order of roast Peking Duck correctly. For me, I thought the roast duck was good, it did not prepare what was going to come up next.

The other special dish of the night was the Buddha Chicken. Granted, not one person in our table ever heard of the Buddha Chicken. In fact, not one clue was given on how to eat this thing when we saw the dish. At first, it looked like a bad construction of a meatloaf or a mushroom was given an over abundance of steroids.

Buddha Chicken ($31.95)

So I decided to take a stab at it and poke the precious bubble surrounding. After digging through, we saw that the chicken was deconstructed with stuffing inside of the chicken skin. The chicken meat was mixed with daikon, chestnuts, and a few pieces of other seafood. Seasoned well and place that is engulfed by the chicken skin to be presented in one plate of chicken.

You can conclude that the experiment have gone haywire or the gastronomy of a chicken was introduced by a mad scientists. It had an wow factor in our table as neither of us have seen it before and treated this dish with bewilderment at first and slowly accepted by a few of us. One of our late dining partner chowed this thing down like there's tomorrow. Just like him, I found the dish to be complicated at first, but accepted with an disconcerting appetite when we figured out the dish.

Inside of the Buddha Chicken

The Cumin Beef was off the menu dish. Apparently it was only available at the other restaurant, but you can ask for it if you knew the dish. This beef dish has a nice flavor component with the sauce and oil that is stir fried very well. The chili and onion complimented the beef in this very savory dish that was devoured by our table in minutes. Couldn't say it was the best dish, but I can tell you it's the most enjoyable dish.

Cumin Beef ($14.95)

Our last dish of the night was the deep fried sweet & sour garlic fish filet. This dish was very simple, but at the same time was order on behalf of our guest of honor and his less-than-adventurous foodie buddy. Even though it was not a daring item like a few preceded this dish, we still pretty much enjoyed with our steam rice and chucked this one up as a success.

Sweet & Sour Garlic Fish Filet ($11.95)

We had a wonderful meal and the bill comes out around $35 for each person. In comparison, some of us thought this was a major $$$ place for the VIP as it was not an everyday dining. For a farewell party, this was an excellent choice for the venue. If I had to suggest coming here, do order in advance for the Roast Peking Duck and the Buddha Chicken. Try to check about the Cumin Beef and skip the stir fried bean sprouts as part of the three way for the Roast Peking Duck.

Duck House
501 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 284-3227


Duck House on Urbanspoon


Wandering Chopsticks said...

Got it! The Buddha chicken looks like the Kuan Yin calabash gourd that she carries around. The carrots on top are the strings that usually comes out. And since in VNese and Chinese Buddhism, Kuan Yin is also a Bodhisattva...hence Buddha chicken. :)

Personally, I prefer my mom's deboned and stuffed Cornish game hens that still resemble game hens. I guess I'm unenlightened that way. ;)

MyCollegeKitchen said...

Really? the Valley location already been closed and relocated? Last time I took my inlaws there when they visited LA, they liked the foods, except the waitress poured hot soup all over her back...LOL... Their foods are pretty good, imo, though not like something you cannot find at any other restaurant. The buddha chicken is similar to a stuffed chicken VNese banquet dish

Kung Food Panda said...

This place looked good Mike. Too bad I missed the meal. I'm craving duck right now. Christine told me about this place in Arcadia that serves Peking duck for $10....wanna check it out sometime?

KirkK said...

Hey PM - Being the big time Duck lovers we are....we've always been tempted to drop by. Bad things is, there's no way the Missus and I could ever finish off that meal! Hopefully, one of these days. The Missus would like to compare it to Quaanjude in Beijing. Great write up as always!

Right Way to Eat said...

Hey WC,

What a joker! Haha. Do you have your mom's recipe handy? Because you might need to cook me that deboned game hen! :P

Hey MyCollegeKitchen,

Yeah, the place on Valley Blvd already cleared out and the website already took off their info in that spot. Ouch! I hope your mom doesn't smelled like that soup all day. Hahahaha.

Hey Kungfood Panda,

$10 for a duck? I hope it's good. Shoot me the location at Facebook when you can. I just hope it's not a wild goose chase if you know what I mean. :)

Hey Kirk,

Thanks buddy! I'll give you a fair warning, it's suited for a group meal because it's $$$ for a single Peking Duck dish. I needed a huge group too to split the cost to make it more manageable. I hope you do get a chance to try it out. They are opening up a new spot at Las Tunas Dr. very soon. Hope you can make it out to either one of the two spots one of these days!