After returning from Beijing, the Missus was craving some Beijing Kao Ya (北京烤鸭), aka Peking Duck. Unfortunately, we decided on a visit to Duck House, which was a big disappointment. The Missus had pretty much given up on getting a decent to good Peking Duck.... until She saw this post by Super-OC Food Blogger, and writer for the OC Weekly, Elmomonster. At that point in time, She just couldn't wait to visit Tri-Village. In fact, I took a day off so we could get some duck, and the Missus called ahead and ordered the Beijing Kao Ya. When we arrived at the mall on Jeffrey Road, and saw the restaurant, along with a Kohl's....across the I-5 from the plaza with 99 Ranch Market and such.... the Missus didn't quite know what to think.
She didn't feel much more confident after looking through the menu, and talking to the staff, and finding out that in spite of the name, like Duck House, this is a Taiwanese run kitchen. Great for Taiwanese food, but maybe not for Northern Chinese...... or Beijing Kao Ya.
The restaurant itself is pretty tiny, but very clean. The staff here is very nice and friendly.
On this day, most of the customers were speaking Mandarin; it was to the point that the two couples we saw eating sweet and sour chicken and chow mein really stood out. We then went with one of our favorite moves; we walked slowly to the restroom to check out what the other tables were eating....... and still wasn't convinced; many of the dishes, especially the Dan Bing looked really greasy....
Still the really nice woman brought out a serving tray, set it beside our table. The young man brought out the duck for us to inspect. It seemed a bit light in color, but it did glisten and looked decent. At least they brought out the duck for us. Due to the tight spaces, I really didn't expect a tableside carving.... they might've ended up skewering a patron.... not a good move if you want return customers.
Within a few minutes our carved duck made it's way across the tight dining area and to our table.
Along with the Dan Bing..... which looked a bit dry.....
But turned out to be pretty good, not quite as thin as Beijing, but these displayed a decent chew to them, and wasn't dry in the least.
One of the women stopped what she was doing and came to start assembling our duck. But seeing how busy she was, we told her that we'd be just fine doing this ourselves.
I picked a piece of skin and had a taste, and was surprised. The piece I'd picked had that light crisp richness and almost melted into fatty goodness on my tongue. And the best pieces were exactly that. The skin wasn't quite as flavorful as what we had in Beijing, neither was the meat; but it was miles above what we had a Duck House. And much better than any version we had in San Diego by far.
The sauce served with the duck seemed to be bottled stuff; but we weren't complaining in the least.
The Missus, still traumatized by the awful bean sprouts and duck meat dish at Duck House, decided to spend the extra $6.99 and get lettuce cups....... a big mistake.
Apparently, there wasn't a whole lot of meat left, and the chef decided to add some filler...... deep fried won ton skins! Say what? This was really bland; the Missus dumped almost the whole container of sauce on this in order to eat it. Maybe this time we should have stayed with the bean sprout stir-fry?
We had also ordered the bone soup, another $6.99. It looked really nice when it arrived, looking like a nice soup.
With mushrooms, napa cabbage, and bean thread this was pretty good. The Missus was disappointed that they didn't use frozen tofu for the soup; a real Northern Chinese thing, but we still enjoyed it. Since it came out rather quickly, we knew that the full potential of the soup hadn't been reached. Still, it had a mild wildness to it.... but instead of spending the extra seven bucks, maybe you'll do what the Missus does.
Overall, we really enjoyed the duck, and will be back. The price for the duck, a standard two ways (no soup) is $34.99. We really enjoyed the service, which was friendly, and efficient.
Tri-Village Northern Chinese Cuisine
14121 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620