When I found out that my husband had never had Peking Duck, I had to get him to have one. I have had really good Peking duck, and and then not-so-great Peking duck, and those were such huge difference that I knew that I had to take him to a really good place. After my research, I decided on Decoy, since it was said as one of the best place to have Peking duck. I quickly made reservation. It is located below Red Farm, and Decoy is a sister restaurant of Red Farm, which is a pretty popular and tasty Chinese restaurant.
I believe how it works is that they order Peking duck once the reservation is made (and it gets filled up quickly). The reservation is for Prix Fixe duck dinner only – meaning, you are committing to the Peking Duck dinner. While we were there, many people kept coming in without reservation. They were all told that there will be 45 minutes or more wait, and the duck is sold out. Some (or lots people) chose to wait, while some other left disappointing with “no duck” situation. Most of the seating here is a long communal table. This could be a bit awkward if you are not used to sitting next to a stranger. Also, depends on where you are sitting, it takes long time to get in and out, making it difficult just getting to the bathroom.
They have a nice sized bar with seating as well. These are not used for reserved seats, as you can only order bar snack food at the bar. Just like the communal table, it was only half empty when they just opened, but then it got filled up pretty quick. There were some people waiting outside (in a cold) until the seats became available. The interior is mainly covered with wood, providing warm, welcoming, and cozy atmosphere.
Right by the entry door, there were two separate nooks with seating on each side. One side is a counter seats for three people. On the other side is a private table for two people. For some awesome luck, we got to have the private table for two!!! We were so happy… Good things happens to good people!
This place has ducks everywhere. Top of bar was filled with wooden ducks. At the door was a duck-shaped neon lights, and by the communal table was a huge duck painting, as large and as long as the communal table. I heard that it supposed to be depicting “The Last Supper” but in ducks world.
From the moment we walked in, we were greeted warmly by the manager, Craig. He took us to our nice private table, and once learned that this was our first time visiting Decoy, he took time to explain their menu to us. Super nice! When our waitress came over, she also explained the menu to us, they are all really nice here. The prix fixe Peking Duck menu ($68.50/person) comes with Homemade Pickles, Decoy Chips, Duck Consommé Shots, 10 Pancakes, 3 sauces, choice of small plates, and choice of fried rice or veggie side. The portion of each items are adjusted depending on your party size so that everyone gets good amount of food. As for duck itself, they provide 1 duck per party of 5 or less. So, basically, the less friends you bring, the more duck you will have… LOL
Once we decided on our sides and put in the order, they brought out the Homemade Pickles and Decoy Chips. It was beautiful to look at, and looked really good!
The Homemade Pickles were consisted of Kimchi Cauliflower, Kimchi Cucumbers, and Pickled Mango. The cauliflower and cucumber were nice and spicy. Still crunchy and had good kick to it. The mango on the other side was a little on the sweet side, bringing in nice balance between spicy and sweet. Also, it was nice and soft, without losing its firmness, adding different texture from the other pickled veggies.
Decoy Chips were really fish chips, and really amazing!!! They were sooooo crisp, it made cracking noise with lemon juice or the dipping sauce. The sauce is a bit sweet, super nice! I think they are mainly the fish skins, fried to perfect crispiness, and just the right thin-/thickness. Really light and addictive, great with or without the sweet sauce.
For our Small Plates, we chose Kumamoto Oysters w Yuzu Ice (comes in 4), and Shrimp Stuffed Shishito Peppers. Just look at this spread… We were so happy, and we haven’t even gotten our duck yet! And we were so grateful we got the private table, as we had more room than if we were at the communal table.
Now, let me tell you about the oyster with yuzu sauce, tobiko caviar, and melon stick. First of all, it came on a bamboo cup, filled with ice. Adorable! Then, the oyster was swimming in a refreshing yuzu sauce. The caviar was more of show than the taste, but it was really great. I also loved the little addition of melon sticks that came with the oysters, worked as nice pallet cleanser.
The bamboo cups were real cutouts from the actual bamboo, which was nice. As they are mostly hollow in the inside, it becomes a perfect little cup for drinks, or in this case, for ice. And the oysters are not small, each one was pretty good size oyster, which we were super happy about. Super fresh, no sand or chipped shell to be found in the inside, very skillfully put together.
Shrimp Stuffed Shishito Peppers were better than I expected. The shrimp was so plump and juicy, every bite was a joy. They had such great flavor on its own, it really didn’t need the green sauce that came with it. But the sauce added extra citrus-y flavor, it was really nice. Some people think shishito pepper is something spicy, but it really is not. They are awesome peppers, with hint to sweetness depends on how it is cooked. It went great with the plump shrimps!
While we were enjoying the small plates and snacks, we also enjoyed some drinks. With full bar, they have great selection of cocktails, wines, and beer. We ordered a cocktail called Impeached ($14) and a Chinese beer called Tsingtao ($9). The Impeached is made with Monkey Shoulder, Cynar, Peach Shrub, Shiso, and Yuzu. Even though it contains peach shrub, it was not as sweet as I anticipated. The sweetness was rather controlled and managed, resulting in more of a refreshing, “real adult” drink. It was strong, not watered down at all. Quality drinks, well worth the price tag. And I liked how they had a real shiso leave on the top.
The Tsingtao beer was really light, easy to drink, and went great with the food. Since it did not have too powerful flavor on its own, a really nice accompaniment to our super flavorful dinner. It was a bit hard to take a photo of it, as the color was almost translucent, very light golden color that is almost the same color as the wood-covered wall. Really smooth beer, went down easily.
When we were finishing up all the snacks and small plates, a staff brought out the Duck Consommé Shots. before I go into that, I want to mention that their service was pretty great. Every 15 minutes or so, one of the staffs will come by to peek at our table to see if we are ready for the next item, or if they could remove our finished plates, or if we needed more water. We never had to ask for anything! We were really well taken care of. Now, the Duck Consommé Shots. It was soooo awesome! It came nice and hot, small but packed with great, deep flavor of the duck broth, and warms you up from the inside. It also cleanses the pallet off from all the delicious and flavorful items that we consumed, getting our taste buds ready for the duck. What a brilliant idea!
At this point, they cleared out the table, brought us clean plates (without us asking for it), and got it ready for the main course: Peking Duck! They presented us with three kinds of sauce, which was intersting. They were Cranberry, Peanut Butter & Sesami, and Hoisin sauce. I’ve only had the duck with Hoisin sauce anywhere else, but this is a place of creativity and imaginative artistic cuisine. So, why not be a bit more adventurous than Hoisin? I am not a big fan of cranberry sauce that comes out of a can. I only like it if it is made with the real cranberries, old-fashion style. And this place had the good kind, where you can still see the real cranberries! They really do high quality here, and nothing else.
Before the duck arrived, we received our choice of fried rice of veggie item. Now, if you wanted to have fried rice, you could go with their Soft & Crunchy Vegetable Fried Rice at no extra cost. But, we wanted something a bit more fancy. So, we went with Crab & Scallop Fried Rice, which cost additional $8 to the total. But hey, you only live once, so why not live well and eat what you really want? And my goodness did we hit a jackpot! It was amazing!!! It was placed on top of bamboo leaves (I believe) inside nice wooden container. The looks alone was great. It had a really nice amount in there, more than enough for two people, as we took almost half of it home with us.
The fried rice had generous amount of small but plump scallops, and juicy crab meats. The rice had soaked up the flavors from scallops and crabs, moist but yet fluffy. It was so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating it. We were super happy with our choice, and yes, well worth the extra $8 to have it.
Now, it is time for the DUCK!!! To me, if they know how to cook the skin right, then they know how to cook the rest of the duck really well. I don’t know if this is true or not, but from my past experience, if the skin was not good, the meat wasn’t good either. Here, the moment I saw the glittering, sparkly, crisp skins, I was very happy and excited.
It comes with a whole duck, with legs too, 10 pancakes, scallions, and crispy fried/whole shallots. The pancakes were nice and warm, thin but strong enough to hold the ingredients. The scallions were really fresh, firm and crunchy with each bite. The shallots added extra texture and flavor. The whole shallots – not the fried ones – gave a good kick to it, like when you bite into an onion, but milder.
The meat was really juicy and had great flavor. The natural flavor of duck was present, dressed up elegantly with right amount of seasoning. All the sauces went great with the duck individually. The peanut butter one was especially nice on the legs. The cranberry one gave a little twist to the duck, making it into Thanksgiving type of flavor. And of course, Hoisin really completed the meal. A whole duck is a generous amount to share among the two of us, so we took some of it home alongside the fried rice. They put the leftovers in tapperware, not some aluminum or Styrofoam container, which was another big plus in my book.
While our food was getting wrapped up, we ordered a dessert to share. They had maybe five different desserts to choose from, and we went with Ginger Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote ($10). It sounded most interesting, and panna cotta is usually light, better for when you are in “already full, but still want dessert!” situation. And it was the right decision. It was creamy, light, velvety, and super delicious. The flavor of ginger was definitely there, but without being overwhelming. It melted in our mouth and went down real smooth…
One more thing I have to mention about this restaurant before I conclude – their bathroom. It is locate in the back, next to their kitchen. It is a narrow and super busy spot if there is someone already in the bathroom and you have to wait in front of the door. Please be courteous to the staff, try to be out of their way as much as you can. Now, for me, I waited for a quite a while, almost made me wonder if there is really someone in the restroom, or if the door nob is broken??? After a while, a young female came out, almost running away. When I got inside, I realized that she was running away from her shame…she obviously could not figure out how to flush the high tech toilet!!! LOL! She could at least warn me and said “I am sorry, I couldn’t flush it…” So, they have this super cool Japanese toilet, TOTO, which I love. And they are kind of high tech, as it comes with bidet function, seat warmer, and so much more. The control panel was installed on top of the toilet paper holder, and there you find the button function for “flush.” It could be confusing to people who have never seen the control panel, or flush mechanism away from the actual toilet… if you come across TOTO toilet, and can’t figure it out, look for the square control panel. If you still can’t figure it out, just get out of there and apologies to the next person! Maybe the restaurant should put out an instructional sign that indicates how to flush the toilet.
Ok, done with the toilet part. As I mentioned, the staffs here are very efficient, friendly, and they know their stuff. Our waitress was really nice too. Our water was filled, dirty dishes picked up quickly, and clean plates delivered without asking for it. The manager, Craig does a great job looking over the entire restaurant, constantly walking around, making sure everyone was happy. We certainly were super happy!
As this is a small restaurant, they do take the reservation very seriously. Once you make the reservation, the commitment to the duck feast needs to be given to the restaurant in a form of your credit card information. If you decide not to show up, they will charge you a penalty fee. They will also ask you to confirm the reservation either by email or phone. If you do not confirm your reservation by 4pm on the day of your reservation, they might not hold your seat. So, make sure you confirm before 4pm. It might sound like an extra stress, but nowadays, many other restaurants call you a day before to confirm your reservation also. And most of all, it is totally worth the extra time and attention at Decoy!
Decoy – 529-1/2 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014