Lunch In Chinatown: Window Duck Is For Lovers
It might not look romantic, but roast duck slays
I am tired of my friends asking me where to go on dates, especially first dates. I'm a food writer and a New Yorker, not a friggin' fount of knowledge. Seriously, I'm not. I broke both the yolks on the eggs I tried to fry for breakfast this morning, and I wrote our how-to on how to fry a damn egg. I don't know. Your date's probably a picky eater or "isn't drinking right now" or will nervously hit on the waiter or something dumb, so screw it all. Your date's probably vegan.
Window duck is my name for the roast ducks hanging in the windows of restaurants in Chinatown. I went on a date last night to go eat this very dish, the kind of date I thought you only go on when you're fairly (to pretty) comfortable with the other person — 10+ dates. My initial thought was that I wouldn't be caught dead around a brand-new beau eating Chinese roast duck the way I do. It's carnal. One wants to leave something to the imagination.
So we met up at one of the many places around Canal Street that's cheap, easy to get to, a little grungy and always full. The first such place we went to was so popular it literally runs out of food by 8:30 p.m., and we were turned away as though we really should have known better. We sat down at the second place (pretty much identical to the first), ordered half a roast duck and baby bok choy and went to town.
The whole experience led me to realize that window duck would make the perfect first date. You can pour each other tea. You can compliment each others' chopstick techniques, joke about who gets to eat the assbone (well, what do you call it?). If you can handle watching the other person do mouth gymnastics around those meaty bites (shhh, don't laugh I'm being totally serious), strips of crispy skin and succulent bits of the best fat on the planet, you will 100% make it to date #2. Hear that, friends? Window duck = second date. Maybe I should stop calling it window duck. Nope, that makes my inner child sad. Window duck.
All too many Chinese restaurants, especially outside of cities, simply don't have it on the menu, especially not at lunch. I found a way around that. Even if you don't see roast duck on the menu, you'll usually see it as an option for noodle soup, especially at Mandarin-style places. So they DO have roast duck! And they will totally serve it up with rice for you, probably even throw in an extra fortune cookie because you clearly realize that Chinese people don't actually eat chicken with broccoli for lunch, and you can practice your sexy scraping-meat-off-bones-with-your-teeth face before that date.
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