First things first…duck. The crispy, crackling golden skinned ones hanging by their neck in the window of 1 out of 5 restaurants on a normal street in the non-glitzy part of downtown HK. Yeah, those. I was determined to have this be my first real meal here and it definitely did not take long to find it.
A matchbox sized little restaurant with plastic chairs and tables full of locals chewing and sipping noisily but wordlessly. Older ones peeling flesh off bone using their fingers and lips, the young chopsticking it. On the right, the kitchen, consisting of a few ducks, geese and pigs hanging down the counter, a huge bin of rice and 3-4 waiters running back and forth, offering incredibly fast service.
There’s no menu here. There is a big mound of awesomely cooked white rice, topped with pig (below, left), duck (below, right) or chicken (not shown). They are prepared pretty much in the same way, by applying direct heat and fire to the flesh, crisping the skin to a beautiful golden-reddish-brown color. The whole animal is taken and then chopped into bite-sized slices, no filet-ing or debone-ing involved. The crackling skin is then brushed with a very light sweet and sour glaze (none of that thick, toxic orange duck sauce) to make it glow. Looking around, everyone had pretty much the same thing – some had fried eggs cut in two, some had a mix of all three animals but overall pig-duck-chicken on rice.
We sat down and immediately 4 teas and 4 bowls of soup were brought to our table. When approached by our hesitant waitress, painfully aware of the camera dangling from my neck and what I was going to use it for, I pointed to the hanging duck and said “duck,” hoping this would suffice. My lunch mates did the same. She repeated “duck, duck, duck, tree duck” and after a nod, disappeared. Used to the 1-hour per plate wait shitty service of Buenos Aires we started eating our soups, taking our time – a cloudy grey-brown chicken broth with pieces of chicken and cartilage, hot on a hot day but somehow refreshing.
About 5 minutes after she had left, our waitress came back with our three duck plates. Delicious and thick skin, parts still crispy, some slimy. Dark meat underneath super tender. Exactly what I was hoping for and expecting was what I got. And for 27 HKD (about US$4), a pretty awesome bargain.
Despite the language barrier and the obvious douchey tourism we were treated with non kiss-ass respect. The other patrons looked up at us from their soup for about 3 seconds but then continued enjoying their meal. Smiles were authentic, confusion treated with kindness. A great first resto experience in HK.