I was wandering around Chinatown on Mott Street looking for a place to eat a seriously delicious lunch with Serious Eats writer Nick Solares when I walked past the venerable Chinatown standby, Peking Duck House. I noticed a write-up from my old friend and editor, the former New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton. Somehow the Peking Duck House had made it on to one of Sam's "Best Dishes in New York" lists. We walked in and found ourselves surrounded by a European tour group. There was one table they weren't occupied. We sat down and ordered a whole Peking Duck ($45), nothing more; we justified the price tag by telling ourselves we would certainly have leftovers to bring back.
Five minutes later a waiter brought a steamer filled with surprisingly thin and delicate pancakes, scallion ribbons, and a dish of hoisin sauce. Then the show really began.
A toqued chef arrived at our table to show us our duck and then retreated to another table a few feet from us. He carved the duck into neat, succulent slices, each with a perfectly crisped rim of skin, and fanned them on a plate. Nick and I looked at each other knowing full well we were in for a treat.
We proceeded to make one wonderful Peking duck-filled pancake after another. Our plan, to bring back the leftovers, was foiled by the utter deliciousness of what we were served. We did manage to leave one little piece of duck and a couple of pancakes.
When we got back to the office we announced that we had brought back some Peking duck. Robyn and Erin ripped open the bag only to find the most meager bit of duck imaginable—a leftover, singular, instead of leftovers. What can I say? The Peking duck at the Peking Duck House was just too good.