Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Peking Duck
70th Road & Austin Street, Forest Hills, NY
718-268-2404

Review by Diana DeRiggs

Peking Duck, the dish, is a real delicacy among Chinese fare. It takes what is normally considered a terrible negative -- fatty, greasy skin, and lots of it -- and makes it into art. The duck skin is separated from the flesh by blowing air between the skin and meat, then air-dried. To cook, the duck is hung up in an oven and allowed to roast slowly till that evil skin is crispy and dark brown. The duck is carved specifically to highlight the skin, and served in a thin tortilla-like pancake, with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumbers. It takes days to prepare and mere seconds to consume.

Peking Duck, the restaurant, obviously prepares them in huge quantity -- the running special is ½ duck for two, plus another dish, appetizers, soup, rice, with oranges and fortune cookie for afters. The duck is brought to the table with steamed thin pancakes and tall, thin slices of cucumber flesh and scallions. A man in a white labcoat unwraps his ultrasharp knife and beautifully carves the skin, taking a bit of meat with each slice. When he's done, the waiter, with two spoons, spreads a steamed pancake on a plate, lightly slathers it with the restaurant's own sweet-salty hoisin sauce, lays down two each scallions and cukes, then a piece or two of duck skin, and rolls it up kind of like a open-ended burrito. He puts it on your plate and entreats you to eat while it's still warm and succulent. You bite into it and feel that all the sins and vices of the world are now between your teeth, and you simply don't care ...

We asked for the carcass; it was brought to the table for gnawing and nibbling what little meat and skin remained on it. Then we asked for it to be wrapped up to make duck stock at home (which will be used for jambalaya/paella this Thanksgiving!). They were delighted that we liked it so much and happily plated and wrapped things for us.

There are many other things on this menu, including dishes that we think of as Chinese but they think of as "American" -- General Tso's Chicken, Moo Shu Pork, Sesame Chicken, Roast Pork, Orange Beef, Shrimp Toast, Wonton Soup, Foo Yung, Chow Mein, etc. It's all good and priced really really well. They also have jelly fish, duck web casserole (yes, using the feet), Singapore Mai Fun ... Keep in mind that Peking Duck is normally considered an expensive dish, but dinner for two didn't even crest $40, despite the many bottles of Tsing-tao beer and sodas ordered.

The waiters were nice, brought as many of the free appetizer munchies as we wanted, and didn't sneer at us for being Americans in a place where the men and women who worked there barely spoke English. Service was prompt and the bathroom clean -- a big surprise in an authentic Chinese place! They also state plainly that if there is something you want that isn't listed, they will make it for you, and the prices are actually the same as similar items on the menu. No surcharging, no skimping, no adding water instead of stock.

We had come here several years ago, and that was obviously before they hit their stride. They used to have poorer service and the food was bland. To our delight, the place is much improved!

Our dinner done, we ate our orange wedges, compared fortunes, and waddled out, taking our many bags of leftovers with us when we went to see Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets the night it opened. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to have partaken in a delicious Chinese dish, then following up the date with a movie about English wizard children ... Some of us will remember a W.E.B. Con, where we established the ideal date as "Denny's and a Movie." Peking Duck and Harry Potter might be close to perfect as a date for Wookiee Huttites!


Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!