Peking duck—that crispy-skinned, juicy-meat icon—has undergone many incarnations, from Ming Dynasty imperial-court delicacy to Mott Street staple. And while countless Chinatown temples still adhere to tradition, serving burnished slices alongside hoisin sauce and bao bing
(thin Mandarin pancakes), the celebratory bird has nonetheless flown the proverbial coop, alighting in new-school restaurants all over town.
At Georgette Farkas’s roast-focused French-American spot, Rotisserie Georgette (14 E 60th St between Fifth and Madison Aves, 212-390-8060)
, Boulud alum David Malbequi dresses seared strips of Long Island duck ($32) with plummy red-wine reduction, rotisserie drippings and huckleberry compote, cleverly echoing sweet-and-salty hoisin. Husband-and-wife team Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi put a Rosh Hashanah spin on the dish at their Jewish-Japanese outlet, Shalom Japan (310 South 4th St at Rodney St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-4012)
, finishing magenta-rare slips with caramelized parsnips, crisp Mutsu apples and honey-viognier vinegar ($27).
Other chefs are mashing up the dish with different cultural favorites. Swapping a rotating spit for a wood-fired pit, Matt Fisher and Bill Fletcher take the quacker to all-American ’cue territory at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue (433 Third Ave between 7th and 8th Sts, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 347-763-2680)
, smoking the meat over maple and oak woods before loading it up with fried duck skin, water chestnuts and house-made hoisin as a lunchtime taco ($5). Though only a scallion’s toss from Chinatown, the roasted fowl at Louie and Chan (303 Broome St at Forsyth St, 212-837-2816)
is a distant descendant of the original, tucked inside a charred calzone ($16) with rich buffalo ricotta, shiitake mushrooms and wilted bok choy.
Come February, Peking purists can partake in full-blown mallard feasts at Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s new birdcentric basement joint, Decoy (529½ Hudson St between Charles and W 10th Sts, 212-792-9700)
, but the Asian classic will also be retooled RedFarm-style as wraps and—no surprise—dumplings. In rejuvenative New Year’s spirit, the Chinese-food bulwark is reborn for a new age—here’s to plenty more duck-filled years.