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Okay, I'm such an ig'nint rube, fresh off the bus from Palookaville, that I don't know the difference between Peking duck and the other kinds.  Can somebody educate me?

Though its been years since I was at the Duck Academy but here's my take:

Roast duck is just that. Roasted.

Peking duck is a more arduous process that involves coating the skin with a maltose or sugary solution and inflating air between the duck meat and skin. I am unsure but they may be quickly boiled to render fat from under the skin too. They are air dried for some time and roasted somehow - there may even be special ovens for these things actually. They have paper thin ultra crispy skin. The accompaniments are the traditional pancake, hoisin sauce, cukes and scallions. Most places that say they have peking duck really are serving roast duck.

My thoughts - anyone disagree?

Evan

Dough can sense fear.

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Though its been years since I was at the Duck Academy but here's my take:

Roast duck is just that.  Roasted.

Peking duck is a more arduous process that involves coating the skin with a maltose or sugary solution and inflating air between the duck meat and skin.....

I think your description of the procedure is right, but then I also think that Sang Kee does the classic Peking Duck procedure, or something like it. They do have Roast Duck on the menu, but the Peking Duck is a different thing, with the super-crispy skin that is really quite distinct from that on their plain-old roasted duck. I can't swear to this, but I can just say that the first course (the skin with the pancakes and scallions and hoisin) tastes very different to me than simply the outer layer of the roast duck that you can get on a rice platter, or whatever.

As another datapoint, I remember reading recently in the paper about how they ship the ducks out to Sang Kee Asian Bistro in Wynnewood from downtown. I doubt they'd bother if they were just roasting them.

And along those lines, I've had "Peking Duck" in a few places in the world (sadly not including China, which would make me feel a little more confident) but in high and low-brow places in NY, in San Francisco, in Toronto, in smaller cities where it requires a day or two advance notice. And it has always had a taste and texture very similar to Sang Kee's version. So unless everyone's playing fast and loose with the terminology, I think Sang Kee really does make Peking Duck.

It's entirely possible that I'm missing some subtlety, or that every place I've gone has taken the same shortcuts, so I'm not going to wager my car on this, but I really think they do more than just roast the ducks there. But I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more about it.

And back to Andrew's question, and the point of this topic:

At Sang Kee, the "Peking" duck, whatever its true identity, is of course a must.

Evan is right about the roast pork (by itself, or on a rice patter with boiled greens, or in a noodle soup.) I have a hard time resisting a bowl of roast pork egg noodle soup. That makes a perfect solo lunch in the winter.

And again agreed with Evan on the snow pea greens. The other various sauteed greens. like water spinach, etc. are good too,

Also, I know it's hard to get past the connotation of mundane mall food, but the General Tso's chicken is really quite good.

I also like the Salt-Baked Squid there.

I like the Beef Chow Fun, and the various pan-fried noodles.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Lakeside Chinese Deli:  sauteed pea leaves, shrimp wonton noodle soup,honey roasted pork, stir fried pin noodles (aka "slugs" in my house).

Evan

Had the Steamed Pork Buns here last weekend, REALLY good... Baby Bok Choy with garlic is good too, and the older woman there always tells me it's very healthy when I order it (along with about 8 other dishes featuring pork in various guises....)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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It's entirely possible that I'm missing some subtlety, or that every place I've gone has taken the same shortcuts, so I'm not going to wager my car on this, but I really think they do more than just roast the ducks there. But I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more about it.

I sense the uncertainty in your voice as in mine young Jedi. I await any welcome confirmation of my blashpemy and I am willing to cut off a finger as a penalty for making such an accusation - yours, of course, not mine.

And back to Andrew's question, and the point of this topic:

At Sang Kee, the "Peking" duck, whatever its true identity, is of course a must.

What he said. I get it often whatever it is.

Evan

Edited by shacke (log)

Dough can sense fear.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Following a couple more visits, I feel the need to update:

Szechuan Tasty House:

Dumplings in a spicy sauce

Cold Chicken in a Spicy Sauce

Golden Coins (pork-stuffed deep-fried Eggplant)

Twice Cooked Pork

Chicken in a Spicy Tangy Sauce

Braised Beef in Szechuan Style

There are plenty more good things, but those are my current don't-miss dishes.

I'd certainly add the Fu Qi Fei Pan if you have any inclination at all toward tripe and kidney, and maybe even if you don't...

some pics here.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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Han Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House (I think that's the name..). It's on Race St. on the North side between 9th and 10th. Up a couple of steps...

Great to watch the noodles being made, right in front of you! He puts on a little discreet show, stretching the noodles, so quickly, he rolls it and then he separates it into noodles with a flick of his hand!

Kids love to watch it, but so do I!

Once, we talked to a guy taking pictures. He said he was in town for a math convention, from LA. He was Asian, and was told to go to this place, that they didn't have anything like it in LA...He was taking the pictures for his math students, to use as a lesson (I guess about making the noodles?)

Get the Noodles with fried soy sauce with extra scallions...

Or the Peanut sauce noodles...also they have snow pea shoots sauteed (in season), delicious!

A friend once got their seafood noodle soup, fresh noodles made right in front of you, and clams in the shell, etc. All for $6!

The regular noodle dishes are $4 or $4.50!

Not a lot of atmosphere, I don't think they have a liquor license, but boy is the food delicious!

Philly Francophiles

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  • 3 months later...

Hit Nan Zhou for lunch today, absolutely perfect for a chilly afternoon. I think they figured out that people were confused by the nomenclature of the noodles with fried soy sauce, so it's now called fried pork with soy sauce (#14).

Whatever the name, it rocks. Great texture on the noodles, the sauce is simple minced pork, scallions, soy sauce, not much else. It's basic, but very satisfying.

Best $4.50 I've spent in a long time...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 2 months later...

One of my favorite winter lunches when I lived downtown was to go to Sang Kee and get a big bowl of roast pork noodle soup. That's it.

Long tangly egg noodles, really great roast pork and an intense broth: it would hold me all day. About $5.

But almost anything mentioned upthread would make for a good lunch and not be too pricey.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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If you are in Old City, Pagoda is great.

For $6, you can get the duck noodle soup. It's a huge amount of soup, with lots of big pieces of duck meat, fresh made noodles and soup! A meal in itself.

The other soups, are great too.

I think I'll start a new topic now, on soups in Philly!

Philly Francophiles

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Help me not starve at lunchtime!  Besides Nan Zhou, what are some of your other very very cheap and tasty Chinatown lunch options?

Cheap, reasonably tasty, but also giving a good idea as to the different kinds of Chinese dishes, especially basic homestyle stuff is the place on 11th south of Race, east side of the street.

3 choices, plus rice (and soup if you want) is about 4 or 5.

4 choices, plus rice and soup os 5 or 6.

This place reminds me of China and the lunch places where there'd be a table with 30 different bowls of things and you'd choose a few over rice as your meal.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Kang Kung Belacan

I've been curious, what exactly is that?

And yeah, the Rendang is great, forgot about that...

This is a dish of convolus greens, and shrimp paste. Irresistable. Served at the very first gathering of the revived DDC almost 3 years ago. I order it every time I visit a Penang.

It appears that convolus is misspelled on the Penang menu. I believe the proper spelling is convolvulus. If it's hedge bindweed, it shouldn't be taken in large quantities because of its constipation-inducing quality.

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  • 4 months later...

Barbecue Platter at Vietnam:

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It's a huge amount of food, and all of it good: springrolls, grilled stuffed grape leaves, elongated meatballs, grilled chicken, rice vermicelli, herbs, lettuce, ricepaper wrappers, and two dipping sauces. $25.

We were so busy gorging on that platter that I forget to take a photo of the Salt-Baked Squid which was also excellent.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Last weekend, I discovered that David's Mai Lai Wah has a Lunch Special for like $6.95 which includes soup, pork fried rice and your choice of any of about 25 or so standard dishes on their menu, separated into spicy or not. A freakin' bargain if ever there was one. Three of us drank tons of tea and ate ourselves silly for like $22! It was crazy. Definitely impressed the auntie who was in town visiting, and totally stunned both myself and friend who live here. Who knew?? :huh:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 1 month later...

So, what do you do when waiting for some eGulleteers on a delayed Chinatown Bus?

Drop in to David's Mai Lai Wah for some silly cocktails, that's what.

gallery_23992_3606_46387.jpg

For you aficionados of Trader Vic's-style tropical drinks, that's a Fogcutter on the left, and a Zombie on the right. At least I think it was a Fogcutter, I have no idea what that drink is supposed to be, I just liked the sound of it. And the guy making it didn't seem to sure either. All I know is that both drinks were STRONG, like, pure alcohol, and about 6 bucks...

When downing a Zombie, or a Fogcutter, it's only prudent to get a little buffer in the stomach, maybe some fried dumplings.

gallery_23992_3606_76265.jpg

The dumplings themselves were nice and fresh, with great filling, and a satisfying crispness, but the thing that sends these into the realm of a Chinatown Highlight is the ginger sauce that's served with them. We're pretty sure it's just fresh ginger, ground up with some sesame oil. Maybe some scallion. Really nice topping for the dumplings, maybe with a splash of vinegar, or a drip of chile oil.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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Having now looked up the recipe for a Fogcutter online (rum, gin, brandy, orange juice, lemon juice, orgeat syrup and a float of sweet sherry) I think I can state with some certainty that the drink on the left is most certainly NOT a Fogcutter. My Zombie was definitely capable of inducing a coma like state.

I think they drained the bar mat and said "Silly caucasians! They shouldn't be ordering drinks here!" :raz:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another visit to Vietnam restaurant: the barbecue platter and salt-baked squid mentioned upthread are excellent, but we also recently tried a couple more things that are definitely Chinatown highlights:

Crispy Duck with Pineapple sauce

gallery_23992_3606_42945.jpg

Too often "crispy" duck ends up all dried out, but not this version, it had a nicely crisp skin, but the meat was very juicy, and the fruity, citrusy twist on the typical Nuoc Mam is a great accent.

And I forget what these are called on the menu... super garlicky greens.... they're awesome...

gallery_23992_3606_19165.jpg

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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  • 11 months later...
I miss soup dumplings!

There are a few places serving them around town, but I haven't found any good enough to put in this "highlights" topic. Bummer...

Has this changed at all? Has anybody found any worthy soup dumplings around? Kinda jonesing for them...

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Ever had vegan dim sum?

Don't.

Vegetarian friends brought us to this all you can eat place across the street from the Convention Center.

Ugh.

Don't have the dumplings there!

The wrap around the dumplings doesn't have taste. And, the consistency is strange.

Philly Francophiles

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  • 8 months later...

In an attempt to quantify some of our suspicions, a few of us ate three Peking Ducks in a row last night. (Well. OK, two-and-a-half - we were running out of steam by the last stop, partly due to our inability to restrict ourselves to only duck.)

We started at my long-time favorite, and obvious benchmark, Sang Kee Peking Duck house (238 North 9th Street). I think I've had better ducks from Sang Kee than we got this time, but it wasn't too far off the average. Sadly, it turned out to be our least favorite of the three. The first course of the crispy skin was a little dry and one-dimensional, the thin pancakes stiff, maybe stale, a couple of them just split in half as we tried to wrap the duck skin.

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That said, we really liked the second course of stir-fried duck meat and vegetables.

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That's a major stylistic difference, and might account for part of our preference: the other two versions left more meat attached to the crispy skin, and did not offer any remaining meat as a separate dish. The other big difference is in the wrapper, our two preferred versions used fluffy steamed buns, which are much better suited to the thicker slices of duck. I think we just like them better overall...

The winner of the three, and our recent favorite, was from Xiao Guan Garden (917 Race.) The skin was perfectly crisp, the duck meat thick and juicy, the buns soft and pillowy.

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A very close runner-up was Ken's Seafood at 1004 Race. We really need to get a whole duck there to make a fair comparison, but we were so stuffed that it just seemed wasteful to do this time.

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This one was just barely behind Xiao Guan, very similar overall, but the skin was not quite as delicately perfect... but that could be random variation, it certainly might be different next time... The buns are the same soft folded steamed buns as XG uses, and they play a major part in making the whole package so seductive.

We should check a few more places, but I really think XG will be hard to beat... Ken's a VERY close 2nd.

(for the sake of full journalistic disclosure, the photos from Sang Kee and XG were from earlier visits, I already have a gazillion shots of duck from those places, so saw no need to get more. The photos are accurate representations of what we got, if not shots of the exact ducks we ate. )

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

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Along the way we had a couple of other dishes that would rank in this "highlights" topic.

Sang Kee:

Roast Pork Wonton Noodle Soup

gallery_23992_3202_30630.jpg

Perhaps my favorite soup in the city.

Barbecue Ribs

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Like pork candy, which is to say, almost the ideal food.

Xiao Guan

Pan-Fried Dumplings

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Crispy, yet tender, served with ginger sauce, if desired.

Ken's Seafood:

Geoduck Clam Sashimi

gallery_23992_3606_153733.jpg

Delicate, tender slices of giant clam, presented on ice.

Fried Geoduck Clam bellies and eggplant

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Really just the best fried clam platter you'd ever want. We're contemplating asking them to dip everything they have in the restaurant in that batter, and deep-fry it. I might eat my cell phone if it were battered and fried like this.

Hong Kong Style Pork Chops

gallery_23992_3606_130183.jpg

These chops are a little thinner, and mysteriously sweeter, than the equally excellent version of this dish at Xiao Guan. I'm not sure I have a favorite. They're crispy, yet still juicy, with ground pork, garlic and onion. No sauce to speak of, and they don't need any.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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All that peking duck looks good!

I could be wrong, but I think pancakes are really the way to go (ie more traditional), and the fluffy bao are just the easy way out for most restaurants. The pancakes are much more time consuming to make.

Also, meat on peking duck skin reflects lack of skill of the carver, although these days, it's probably just easier for most restaurants to serve it with meat. Traditionally, it should only be the skin. Then the meat is used for a stir-fry type of dish, then the carcass for soup.

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