Review: OK 218, Chinatown
It’s taking me forever to get these New York posts out, but they’re so fun I just can’t not post them.
I knew that when we ended up in Chinatown, I wanted to find some Peking duck. I can’t think of a single restaurant in Cincinnati that does an authentic Peking duck– many do roasted duck prepared Peking-style, but I wanted the exceptionally crispy skin that you can only get with proper preparation. As we walked up Grand Street, I saw a place with ducks hanging in the window. That’s probably not the best way to judge a restaurant in New York, but it was there, and Terry had never had Peking duck, so it was an easy judgment.
OK 218 is a restaurant that serves the community. We were definitely the only tourists there, and to be honest, our service wasn’t fantastic. It consisted of me ordering and the waiter bringing us tea–unasked for but expensive– and then efficiently (if not artfully) preparing the Peking duck in front of us. If you’re looking for a fancy, white tablecloth Chinese experience, you will not get it here. But that really shouldn’t matter: it’s really good.
Peking duck is served in little packages of pancakes, skin, scallions, a bit of meat and Hoisin sauce. The crispy skin appears due to a multi-step process, including blowing the duck’s skin away from the muscle with air, boiling the whole duck briefly, then covering the duck with maltose syrup in order to make it shiny and brown. And tasty. Did I mention tasty?
Peking duck for two with nothing but duck, pancakes, scallions and sauce was $14. A complete dinner, with side dishes, was $28. If you happen to walk down Grand and want some duck– try it!