Monday, March 27, 2006
A Nice Jersey Duck
I've done my share of complaining about Chinese restaurants, and I'm sure there's much more to come. Overlong menus that don't allow a place to highlight its strengths, anonymous gloppy sauces, lack of culinary nuance -- the list of offenses is vast. So imagine my delight to have a terrific meal at a little restaurant in north Jersey called Cathay 22.
Margy and I went with my mom, who had moved out of one kitchen but had yet to move into the next, and my sister, who was in from out of town putting her singular organizational skills to very good use at my parents' new home for a few days. Sis wanted duck. Who am I to argue?
This is the Peking duck, cut from the bone and arranged on the plate roughly in the shape of a very wide, very flat bird. The presentation wasn't what I would call gorgeous, but the meat was tender and flavorful and the skin was crisp yet moist with bits of tasty fat. We ate some duck in pancakes with scallions and hoisin sauce, and some by itself. The crunchy legs were of particular interest to me.
And then we had tangerine prawns and baby bok choy. The prawns were big and succulent, coated in a light batter and served with garlic and pieces of tangerine rind. The tangy sauce was so spicy that my mom and sister gave up after a while and let Margy and me finish the prawns. For the two of us, the lip-smacking heat level was just right.
The question is: Will Cathay be this good the next time? Please let it be so.