28 °C Manila, PH
December 6, 2023

My duck memoirs


By Buddy Recio

I have this secret fascination with ducks and I am in constant search for the duck dish that will most satisfy my libido. As I am just starting to travel places that offer duck regularly, there are just a number of experiences to include in my duck memoirs, for now.

My first duck dish that I paid for was a roasted duck dish in a Chinese restaurant in a Manila mall. It was rather uneventful, rather bony than fleshy, and dripped with too much oil that the taste was more of the sweet chili sauce than the duck itself. Anyway, that experience did not diminish my appetite for duck but rather in eating roast duck in that restaurant.

Before that, however, my fascination with duck started in the early 90’s when Peking Duck was the main attraction at a hotel opening in the Bay Area. That was my benchmark for many years until about 7 years ago when Peking Duck became standard fare in luxury Chinese restaurants and Spiral at Sofitel From then on ,I never missed any chance to get my fill of duck. My trips to Hong Kong was the height of my Peking Duck adventures, but there was still that missing oomph that will make me spend my money wildly over Peking Duck, whether 2-way or my favorite, three-way (style); besides, there were other tasty duck dishes prepared in different ways that takes my mind off it like duck l’ orange that I first tasted on a cruise ship, I became familiar with the duck’s best part, the breast, all the while thinking it was the leg. and fried bebek (duck) in Bali, a whole duck , marinated with spices, and deep-fried to decadent goodness.

Bebek Bengil in Ubud, Bali is the most popular duck restaurant.
The traditional bebek served at Bebek Bangil

In Shanghai, I ordered a duck dish, a whole leg, in brown sauce in a small street restaurant where all signage were in Chinese and no one could speak a single word of English, so delicious and it cost an unbelievable 17 yuan (almost USD2).

Duck tongue in Shanghai

It was also in Shanghai where I tried a delicacy, duck tongue, served in a turn-of-the-century hotel near The Bund. Enthralled with its soft and chewy texture and stating I couldn’t believe it can be eaten, I was told that the webbed feet is also delicious.

Here in the Philippines, I learned about duck dishes sold commercially in the 90’s in the town of Victoria in Laguna. Then some places in Makati and Manila sprouted with adobong itik (duck cooked in vinegar and soy sauce), pritong itik (fried duck), but it was in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley that I was served with a mouth watering duck dinuguan (duck innards stewed in its own blood) that I remember up to this day.

With the boom of luxury hotels in the Metro, duck becomes the specialty whenever a Chinese restaurant opens as an outlet. Add to that the omnipresent fusion, duck has found its way to our palate as parts of a salad, an appetizer, or some other creation; but I will always pick the lordly Peking Duck as my first choice.

Farm to table duck prepared at Grand Hyatt Manila’ No. 8 China House

Sofitel,Resorts World, Marco Polo, Marriott, and Grand Hyatt are the hotels that come to mind. Sofitel has it in one corner of its 21 ateliers( stations; Passion at Resorts World has its popular two-way duck; Marco Polo has it in the menu of Lung Hin,its Chinese restaurant; Marriott prides itself with its Roasted Goose at Man Ho; while Grand Hyatt banners its farm to table Peking Duck bred in a special farm in Victoria, Laguna.

Marriott’s goose served at Man Ho restaurant

As much as I have had many culinary adventures with ducks and geese, I will still admit that it is a work in progress and that, even as my digestive juices rumble from writing this story, I am still in search for that duck dish that will bring me to Nirvana.


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