When we first moved to San Diego.......almost eight years ago today, we'd drop by Tom's BBQ for some roast duck every so often. Back then it was pretty darn good, excellent skin, nice balanced five-spice flavor, fairly tender meat. But over the next year or two, the place seemed to go South....the same folks, in the same looking shop, but the roast duck became rubbery, bland, and the roast pork was even worse. Over time, Tom's became a bit of an afterthought for us.....once when the Missus went to Panchita's Bakery next door, I remember telling Her, "it's been a real long time since we've been to Tom's, maybe we should see if the roast duck has regained form." Only to forget about that a few hours later. So......I guess a revisit to Tom's BBQ was way overdue.
Time hasn't been real good to ol' Tom, the interior, never the picture of spic n' span cleaniless, seemed coated with the residue of a thousand ducks, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The place is starting to look a bit worse for wear.
The prices at Tom's have always been good, and are still on the inexpensive side....except for the roast duck which now costs $18.50. A half duck goes for $9.50, the most expensive of all the take-out Chinese BBQ places in San Diego!
So of course I got a half roast duck:
The duck looked nice and juicy, and this version did not have "jus" poured all over it. Actually, this duck could have perhaps used some of the drippings, as it was fairly bland. The skin was flaccid and tough, as was the meat. In my opinion Cam Ky down the street is a better choice.
I also ordered a half pound of Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork - $3.50):
Having never tried the Char Siu, I quickly noticed that Tom's uses a minimal amount of red food coloring. The meat is very lean, and looks dry, but was better than I thought. It could be more moist, somewhat lacking in the umami and sweetness, but this was not bad.
The roast pork on the other hand (1/2 ln $4):
Was very dry, and bereft of flavor. The skin was hard, and not very good. Guess, what Da' Boyz had for dinner with their rice???
I can't help but wonder what happened to Tom's? I guess my next move is a revisit to Cam Ky, and perhaps another roast duck from Golden City(though technically not a Chinese BBQ joint). In the end, I can't help but wonder if perhaps I'm tilting at "roast duck windmills" in a Quixote-like quest for good roast duck in San Diego? Or maybe I should set my standards lower? Not very likely though........
Tom's Chinese BBQ
4414 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105