What American dislikes the chicken? I, for one, love the chicken. But for some reason, the more sensually inclined fowl called DUCK has never gained quite the same hold on our psyche. Somehow, duck always comes off as excessive.
Duck wasn’t actually on my mind when I went to Capital Restaurant in Chinatown. I was determined only to make a rare trip to that neighborhood and eat something resembling Chinese food (I usually indulge in said cuisine either in The Richmond or The Sunset). There’s an element of Russian roulette in patronizing, sight-unseen, a random restaurant in Chinatown. The dearth of tourists and surfeit of locals was promising at Capital, as was the presence of a low bar by the entrance that led into a plain, un-pretentious dining space. I leafed through the voluminous menu, scanning over pork and chicken, beef and vegetable, but my eyes were drawn repeatedly back to the duck. For some reason, ordering duck has always induced an odd sensation of guilt in me; it was always seen as something indulgent and decadent by the distaff parental unit taking my brother and I out for a night of dinner. It’s greasy and gamey, and there’s a delicious, cushiony rind of fat sandwiched between the lightly crisped skin and the dark, flavorsome meat that’s to die for. Suppressing my inchoate shame, I ordered the duck and, in order to ameliorate the last vestiges of puritan reproval, the steamed asparagus. The duck did not disappoint, but the asparagus was over-salted and slightly over-cooked (I remedied the former shortcoming with a spray of lemon juice). The excess of duck jus was such that I gave up on napkins and just piled into it no-holds-barred, giving myself a good degreasing in the bathroom afterwards.
With the addition of two lagers and a pot of jasmine tea, I came away 30 dollars poorer, not bad considering I ate for two healthy adults or one tween elephant. And such was the transcendent quality of the fowl I consumed, I’ve decided to embark upon a mini-quest to find the perfect Chinatown duck. I got an unsolicited lead in that direction from a kindly old lady tucking into her whole baked tilapia sitting down the bar from me. I won’t tell you its location now, but if you keep an eye out for further posts of mine, you’ll learn it soon.
839 Clay Street (@Waverly )
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