Dining

Bird's the Word

The Peking duck dinner at Decoy is a DIY feast
Peking Duck and Ed Schoenfeld of Decoy in the West Village
Ed Schoenfeld plus a platter of crisp duck skin at Decoy

The sign on the window is neon pink and shaped like a duck. A massive painting on the wall of the dining room depicts ducks feasting at a fruit-laden table like 19th century aristocrats. Wooden decoys crowd the ridiculously tiny host stand and the bar, where guys are using a stencil to spritz duck-shaped stamps of wine on the foamy caps of duck-fat-washed cocktails.

Sensing a theme? The star attraction at Decoy is the classic Chinese banquet dish known as Peking duck, a shining platter of moist, salty meat and gloriously crisp, burnished skin, whole drumsticks and wings ($78, serves two).

The birds are from Long Island, delivered to the kitchen with the head and feet still on, then pumped full of air so the skin balloons out, away from the meat. The ducks are blanched for just a few seconds in boiling water to get the skin taut, then hung for two days.

At dinnertime, when the birds meet Joe Ng's tandoor-like oven built for this purpose and fall into a column of intense heat, they achieve maximum crispness quickly because the skin has been so thoroughly dried. The meat, meanwhile, stays moist because it's not in the oven for too long.

It's an elaborate process, which is why many restaurants roast the ducks in advance, then pop them into the deep fryer during service. Decoy cooks the birds to order. Ng also makes the thin pancakes in-house, which arrive hot and supple in a steam basket (see the slideshow).

Smear them with hoisin sauce and pile on some shards of crisp skin, batons of cucumber and scallions if you want to go classic. Or experiment with Decoy's cranberry sauce—sweet-tart enough to be at home at the Thanksgiving table—and fried leeks, non-traditional toppings that partner Ed Schoenfeld cheekily refers to as "revisionist."

Either way, a shot of the extremely rich and silky duck consomme, made from the parts of the bird that didn't show up on the table, is a great thing to sip between bites.

  • The chef and restaurateur behind Red Farm, Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld, are serving elaborate Peking duck dinners in the new restaurant downstairs, Decoy.

  • Duck is the theme, even when it comes to the cocktails.

  • The drink Sitting Down for Dinner ($14) is made with duck-fat-washed George Dickel...

  • ...and crowned with a stamp of Malbec in the shape of a duck.

  • Behold the platter of Peking duck at Decoy, roasted to order in a tandoor-style oven.

  • Joe Ng makes the pancakes in-house and steams them to order so they're hot and supple.

  • Fried leeks and shallots are part of the platter's non-traditional, revisionist toppings.

  • To build a classic pancake: smear with hoisin, add duck, skin, cucumbers and scallions.

  • Fold it up neatly and devour.

  • Repeat.

  • The Peking duck feast comes with consomme for sipping and three sauces: cranberry, peanut and the classic hoisin.

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