Today is Peking Duck Day at Yushi (and You May Be Surprised to Hear Where The Duck Comes From)
I had been hearing rumors that the Downtown branch of Yushi had been tearing things up on Wednesdays with a new peking duck special. So when the Midtown branch (on 47th btw. Park+Lex) announced two weeks ago that they too would be doing peking duck (on Thursdays) I was mildly excited. See, Yushi and I have always had a complicated relationship. When they first opened I wasn’t down with their expensive bento boxes, and low calorie mentality. But they’ve won me over since, with cool sushi rolls (peking duck sushi anybody!?), delicious soups, and free giveaways for Midtown Lunch’ers. Sure everything is a bit more expensive than I would like, but the food tastes good- and the quality of the ingredients is better than your average take out joint.
Peking duck pancakes and fried rice for $9 on Thursdays only? Alright… I’m down to take the plunge.
When I got to Yushi last Thursday I was pretty excited to discover that Peking duck really meant Peking duck. Sadly they don’t carve it to order, but I understand. Each pancake is rolled to order, and it would take forever to do the whole thing (carving/rolling/packaging). Instead they do the carving a couple times during lunch, and keep the meat in a steam table for warmth.
Not surprisingly the rolls are incredibly small (essentially they are half of a mu-shu style pancake, rolled up) but they are properly filled with hoisin and scallions and the duck inside is spot on- probably because they get the bird whole and already roasted directly from Chinatown. So if you’ve got any complaints about the duck, it’s going to be about price- not taste. The fried rice was not amazing, but was perfectly edible- which is good, because you’ll have to eat all of it to even feel close to full.
So this is where a lot of people will complain that “peking duck in Chinatown is dirt cheap!” or “I can get a whole plate of roast duck over rice at Hing Won or Hop Won for $7, and it’s a ton more food than you get at Yushi!” And you’re right. Chinatown is cheaper. Flushing is better. And you get a ton more duck at Hing Won. But like everything at Yushi, if you’re looking for something a tad less greasy, don’t want to stuff your face, and don’t mind spending the extra money, there is a lot to like about their Thursday peking duck special.
I figured while I was there, I would also check out their “dim sum” (which was added a few months back.) You get 6 dumplings plus a side salad for just over $6- a price that immediately evokes thoughts of the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck (but at least at Yushi you don’t have to pay extra for the salad.) I tried the pork and chive, and thought they were pretty good. Just like the dumplings at Rickshaw they’re steamed (so fans of pan fried dumplings will still find these lacking), but despite not being fried you can still taste a bit of greasy fattiness from the pork that is totally missing from Rickshaw. This also is less surprising once you find out that Yushi also gets their dumplings from Chinatown(where they are hand made from a special supplier) so if you don’t mind paying Rickshaw prices- but want a slightly greasier steamed dumpling, you will really like Yushi’s.
In the end, Yushi still is what it is. If you hate it, neither the duck or the dumplings is going to change your mind. But if you love it (or tolerate it), the peking duck Thursday special is one of the better things they’re selling these days.