Succulence and abundance: on duck at Argyle’s “Sun Wah”
My friend Josh used to say, “If you haven’t had Korean Barbeque, you haven’t lived.” Whilst this statement remains true, after having Sun Wah’s Barbeque Peking Duck, I must change this statement to “If you haven’t had Peking Duck, you haven’t lived.” Thanks to Joe for organizing this, and to Pei-Chih for driving us; Martin and I had such a great time! It definitely helps to have reservations, because this place can get packed! Other times, we’ve shown up and been told there is a one hour wait, but were seated after only fifteen minutes, so it’s always worth sticking around for a little bit even if the official wait time is a big disappointing.
The Experience: You know a restaurant has got to be good when you can smell the flavor of roast duck from a block away, and when you’ve got to wait for a seat, despite the restaurant being huge. Sun Wah has a very cute history, which the restaurant is very proud of; it’s family owned and operated, with the children of the original owners succeeding their parents and expanding the restaurant. The storefront is made from glass, with ducks hanging in the window, and you can watch the chefs chopping the meat on a giant wooden block (a tree trunk, perhaps?). If you order the duck dinner, which is so secret it’s not even on the menu, it’s cut right at your table. Call ahead to make reservations if you want to delicious duck dinner!
The Food: You come for the food. After our friends introduced us to Sun Wah the first time, Martin and I got such a huge craving for it the next week that we took a spontaneous ride on the El all the way down to Argyle and got duck in the middle of the afternoon. There aren’t many foods that can pull Martin away from Starcraft, but Sun Wah’s duck is one of them. The skin is perfectly cooked to be a little crispy, but still tender; it crunches nicely in the mouth and is filled with juice! Just writing this makes me hungry again.
Not only do you get duck included in the ‘duck dinner’ option, but the leftovers that weren’t in the initial cut are then made into duck soup, duck fried rice, and duck noodles! By the time the little ginger dessert sorbet comes, you are fully saturated with duck flavor. Luckily, the Hundred Year Egg Congee is quite good, and gives a little break from the otherwise nonstop duck!
Unfortunately, the one time Martin and I came by ourselves, our waiter wouldn’t give us buns or green onions to go with our duck, and I was very disappointed. Not speaking fluent Cantonese, I couldn’t get the waiter to give us a few buns. Luckily, the duck was succulent enough to just go with rice, but I was still sad, especially because at other visits, they did provide extra buns/green onions.
The Bill: Sun Wah is very affordable, especially because they give you so much food. One ‘duck dinner’ is approximately $30, but can easily feed three people. And when I say, “feed three people,” I really mean it; we were all stuffed by the end of the meal, if not by the actual food, then by the sheer flavor of duck.