Im still in mourning over the seeming demise of Janmae Guey Market on Stockton Street taking with it my all-time favorite Cantonese roast duck. If anyone knows where the cooks went, please tell us. Id also like to hear about your favorite places for these kinds of meats.
Anyway, Ive been making the rounds along the Cantonese deli counters in Chinatown searching for a worthy successor. To date, Ive tried and rejected King Tin, Hing Lung, Daisy, and Cheung Hing. There were several others with ducks that didnt look so good just hanging in the window, not even passing the visual inspection test. When I found one that seemed of high quality, it first had to pass the ultimate arbiter my mother before I could recommend it. I brought one home to Salinas Easter weekend for her taste test.
For her, I buy the duck whole rather than having it chopped. My mother is a wizard with a Chinese cleaver. In a flash, she can drain the cooking juices, debone the whole thing, remove extraneous fat, slice it into attractive bite-size pieces, pull the tasty meat off the interior of the carcass, neck and limbs, and reassemble the pieces into an entirely edible mound of beautiful skin-side-up duck meat (with the stray bits underneath) that fits in an 8 pie plate. To serve, she crisps it in the toaster oven and has the heated duck jus on the side as a condiment. All the bones, wings, head, tail, fat, and seasonings pulled from the cavity (ginger, star anise, scallions, etc.) will go in the stock pot. Shell carefully skim the rendered fat to be saved for future cooking, and the broth will be used to make duck-flavored jook. Nothing goes to waste in this kitchen!
Before Id even had a chance to ask, Mom was praising this duck.
Mom This is a really good one. From a new place?
Me - Yes, I got it from the same store where I buy roast pork. Hows it look?
Mom Its a good size. The skin is browned all over and there werent any big lumps of fat. When I cut it open, I got at least another half cup of op jup [duck jus] out of the cavity to add to the jar. Lots of jearng [seasoning rub/paste] inside too. Did you have trouble getting the op jup?
Me No, not at all, I just put the glass jar on the counter and he filled it up. The guys here are pretty nice and friendly.
Mom Oh thats good. I dont like to have to beg for the jup. And, some of those places the people are so gruff, you dont want to give them any business. The meat is really tender too and the jup has good flavor.
We had the duck for lunch with some fresh rice noodles in home-made gingery chicken broth with baby bok choy. The seasonings had a lot of deep flavors and aromatics that penetrated the duck. It has a more robust taste, not as subtle as JMGs, but very good in its own way.
New Moon has a few small tables for eat-in service in addition to take out. I would also recommend the roast pork here, cut from a whole roast pig hanging by its haunches. The skin is good and crackly with lots of bubbles, the seasonings reach deep into the flesh (see the red ring), and while not suckling pigs, they are a bit smaller here with sweeter meat.
New Moon Restaurant [Chinatown]
1247 Stockton St.