Dear Mr. Gold,
I wandered by the San Gabriel Beijing duck place Lu Din Gee yesterday and noticed that it had been replaced by a Sichuan restaurant. Any idea where to get good duck now?
—Titus Levi, L.A.
Dear Mr. Levi,
Lu Din Gee isn’t dead — it just renamed itself Duck House (in English at least), and moved to the former location of the neo-Shanghai restaurant 501 Gourmet in Monterey Park. It is a bit grander than Lu Din Gee, with water features, heavy tablecloths and all-but-mandatory reservations, but the original concept is unchanged. Duck House is a thoroughly Taiwanese restaurant that just happens to specialize in Beijing duck, a place to come for spiffed-up versions of things like eel rice, pork belly with garlic and many preparations of the mysterious, fiber-rich jelly called konjac. But mostly you will come for the traditional duck service: crisp squares of the elaborately prepared roasted duck skin arranged on a platter, ready for you to fold into little tacos with ultrathin wheat pancakes, sweet bean jam and slivers of scallion. (The actual duck meat, sliced and served in the middle of the platter, is as always almost besides the point.) For a few extra dollars, you can also have the bones boiled into a bland, milky-white soup and the extra scraps of flesh stir-fried with bean sprouts. Veterans of the local Chinese-food wars still yearn for Quanjude in its prime, the short-lived outlet of the famous Beijing-duck chain based in Beijing itself, but until Obama can persuade Hu Jintao that duck is essential to the comity of nations, Duck House will more than do.
Note: You must call and reserve a duck one hour in advance. Otherwise, no duck for you.
Duck House: 501 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, (626) 284-3227 or www.pearlcatering.com.