Critic’s Choice: Where to go for duck in L.A.

Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic

I admit, I love my duck. Young and broke and in Paris, I used to save up for the prix fixe menu at a little bistro in the 6th that included canette (female duck) roasted on the spit and floating island for dessert. I count the wild duck my friend Bill cooked 20 years ago as one of the finest things I’ve ever eaten.

With no canette or wild ducks in sight, where does one go for duck in L.A.? Here are three ideas.

Stuffed roasted duck at Dha Rae Oak


Last month, friends took me to Dha Rae Oak for a small pre-birthday dinner. Since we were going to be five, they ordered not one but two entire ducks, and we just about polished off both, I’m happy (or sorry) to say. It’s essential to order the bird the day before. First, it’s stuffed with sticky rice, beans, chestnuts, walnuts, fruit, chunks of sweet potato and lots of herbs. Wrapped in cheesecloth and roasted for four hours in a clay pot, the duck emerges butter tender. The skin isn’t exactly crisp, but that’s not the point. Bite by bite — moist duck, fragrant stuffing and various small panchan dishes — the feast rolls on.

1106 Western Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 733-2474. Stuffed roasted duck, $60, including soup and an array of panchan (serves three to four).

Peking duck at WP24

At Wolfgang Puck’s high-end Chinese at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, you can enjoy Peking duck 24 floors up, complete with a wraparound view of downtown skyscrapers and the mountains beyond. The duck can be ordered as part of the three-course prix fixe menu at $80 per person. Steep, but this is one excellent bird. The skin is crisp and lacquered, the flesh is moist, and it’s served with two sets of garnishes and lovely bao buns. One other option: Go for cocktails in the lounge with that same drop-dead view and order the Peking duck rolls with shredded duck and hoisin dipping sauce.

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, 900 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 743-8800, Whole roasted duckling “Peking style” with traditional garnishes (for two); order it as part of the three-course menu for $80.

Duck confit bánh mi at Next Door by Josie

Start with the deviled eggs at Josie Le Balch’s casual offshoot of Josie. The egg’s filling is classic, except for the genius touch of a sprinkling of duck cracklings. I might share a baby kale salad with pickled onions and lacy Parmigiano tuiles standing in for the croutons before digging into sous-chef Mai-Khanh Le’s superlative bánh mi. The sandwich’s baguette is warmed and crisped just enough to make sound effects when you take a bite. Inside: shredded duck confit and plenty of it, with the crunch of pickled cucumbers and julienned carrots and daikon all lavished with garlic aioli and cilantro sprigs. This summer I’m thinking takeout for the Hollywood Bowl.

2420 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 581-4201; lunch Tuesday to Friday only. Duck confit bánh mi, $14.