Restaurant: Tasty Duck [1, 2, 3]
Location: 1039 E Valley Blvd. Ste B102. San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 572-3885
Date: September 28, 2013
Rating: Great Duck!
My Hedonist food and wine club loves the SGV. This community 20 minutes East of Downtown LA boasts a staggering array of good Chinese restaurants and Tasty Duck is one of our regular spots. Even though its intensely crowded, we shoe horned 23 people in on a busy Saturday night. Of course this meant 11-12 people at tables meant for 8-10, but what’s a little elbow in your pancake among friends?
NV Pierre Péters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve. Burghound 93. A stunningly elegant nose of pure floral, Granny Smith apples, spice and freshly sliced lemon complements to perfection the intense and equally pure flavors that possess excellent punch like remain delicate and ultra-refined on the balanced and persistent finish. The supporting mousse displays a very find bead and the overall impression is one of subtlety and grace. Not only is this a wonderful effort but the value it offers it beyond stunning.
Cold appetizers: Jellyfish (top left), wine chicken (top), and beef (bottom). This kind of plate is very traditional in China. The beef was my favorite, marinated, a bit salty, and smoky.
Some white Bordeaux that was beyond gone. Too bad!
The main event: Peking Duck. Not only was this delectable, with fantastic crispy skin and delicate meat, but it’s artfully arranged. We had two plates of these per table and it was a feeding frenzy!
Here are the traditional accompaniments. Excellent pancakes, hoison sauce, and scallions and apple/pear. One mystery question I must ask: why do Chinese restaurants insist on putting far too few pancakes and too little hoison sauce on the table? We had to ask for refills about four times (which they happily brought).
2006 Sine Qua Non Autrement Dit. 90 points. Very nice blueberry/strawberry nose. not hot on the nose. really nice full palate and mouthfeel with a nice mix of red and blue fruits, and integrated earthiness. did not noticably detect any heat or wood on this. certainly a bigger and different type of rose, but this bottle was nicely restrained and seemed in good balance tonight.
The best American rose I’ve yet had. Rather wonderful.
Cumin lamb. A typical specimen, but with tender flavorful lamb. Some places border on mouton.
2010 Samuel Billaud Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. Burghound 92. While there is a trace of exotic fruit to the otherwise very pure aromas of white flower, citrus, wet stone and seaweed, this offers ample Chablis character. There is an attractive succulence to the fleshy middle weight flavors that exude a fine minerality on the clean, dry, linear and overtly saline-infused finish. Like the straight Chablis, this too evidences a hint of bitterness though it should pass in time.
French style Beef. Extremely tender and delicious, almost sweet, morsels of filet.
1971 Weingut Paul Ayl Ayler Kupp Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel. Unfortunately a bit over the hill.
Some amazing Shanghai style soup dumplings. Tasty little morsels stuffed with pork and broth.
1994 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Heimbourg Vendange Tardive. Parker 99! These wines are made in frightfully tiny quantities, and are so rich that they make Chateau d’Yquem look like an under-nourished wine. Truly the stuff of legends, these possess 15%-18% residual sugar. All three will age for 40-50 years, but will anyone wait that long? They are “off the charts” in terms of flavor extraction, balance, quality, and the lavish quantity of extract and intensity they possess.
Wine of the night for sure!
Crispy whole red cod with sweet and sour sauce. A really nice fish, similar to a couple weeks ago at the Shanghai place.
Bok chow and I think mushrooms, hard to tell. Mild but very pleasant.
1990 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux. Burghound 90. Still deeply colored. An expressive, dense, indeed huge nose of roasted, ever-so-slightly stewed fruit that is already showing a great deal of secondary and even tertiary development while the muscular, rich, extracted and solidly complex flavors are underpinned by a tough, firm and very prominent tannic backbone. This is a dramatic bruiser of a wine but it’s not clear that it’s ever going to harmonize as the finish is completely dominated by the structure and given that the fruit is presently much more advanced than the evolution of the tannins, it’s a tough call to say whether the fruit will be able to stand the test of time and this most recent bottle gave no cause for optimism in this regard, indeed it seemed to confirm that this is probably a lost cause. Optimists will continue to hold the ’90 Epeneaux in the cellar as it will certainly be around 30 years from now though whether it will be any more balanced than it is now is the essential question.
Some kind of crazy pork cut. Some serious fat here and the skin was a bit mushy, but the meat fell off the bone and was incredibly tender and delicious.
1970 Bodegas El Coto Rioja Coto de Imaz. Surprisingly good for such an old non-riserva Rioja.
The proverbial, “duck soup” that is the last part of “duck three ways.” Mild and pleasant with some tofu and cabbage. I can also vouch that it was served hot, as a ladleful was poured across my hand and I had to soak my thumb in ice water all night.
Their interesting take on “walnut shrimp.” The fried shrimp, sweet mayo sauce, and walnuts is supplemented with pineapple!
Part of “duck three ways”: sprouts with bits of duck meat.
Beef rolls with BBQ beef and cilantro. Really nice, tasted like rolled up Pho.
Eye ball surprise anyone? Actually a very unusual dish. Like egg drop soup but sweet with these big tapioca balls. Pleasant, although continuing the general trend in which Chinese desserts bat about 50.
Overall, another fantastic meal. The total damage, including tax and a whopping 30% tip was $35 a person! “Inflated” because of our multiple ducks. The service was great (for Chinese). They were very friendly and willing to serve us the dishes one at a time over a long period . This is actually fairly unusual as a lot of Chinese restaurants like to slam you out in 45 minutes by dropping everything on the table at once. The duck was first rate, as good as Peking duck gets — more or less. The other dishes were good too, with almost all of them being very well executed and not greasy.
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