Duck Duck Goat
When I heard that Stephanie Izard was going to open a restaurant focused on Chinese cuisine called Duck Duck Goat, I crossed my fingers that it would not be an overpriced let down as are a number of Chinese “fusion” establishments in Chicago. I went with a bunch of friends to try out what they had to offer, and we were immediately met with awesome décor, that ranged from your higher end private dining rooms to the day to day street food counters. And when we looked at the menu that listed Izard’s play on Chinese dishes, our eyes lit up, and we ordered liberally.
The jiaozi (dumplings) stuffed with beef short rib and bone marrow were super juicy and had just the right ratio of filling to dough. There are different ways to prepare jiaozi, and I think with this flavor profile, pan frying them was certainly the way to go. To pair with the food, I ordered a cocktail that resembled a pisco sour. It was refreshing and delightful to pair with an appetizer that is more substantial. And my husband ordered the in house pu-erh tea, which was very soothing.
The other starter we ordered were the duck hearts. This may seem extremely exotic, but in China, when you order Peking duck and accompanying dishes, it often comes with duck heart. Duck heart is a bit nutty in taste, and the sesame-horseradish sauce was the perfect creamy accompaniment to accentuate the flavors of this organ.
The xiao long bao (soup dumplings) were stunning! The wrapping is transparently thin, and I loved that they put crab in the filling. In my opinion, the best xiao long bao are those with a bit of crab or crab roe inside because it adds complexity to the pork filling.
Biting into our final appetizer, the scallion pancakes, my friends and I were all surprised by how decadent they were. In fact, they were extremely buttery, which reminded me of a rich, flaky croissant rather than the Chinese scallion pancakes that I seem to have a bottomless stomach for.
The shui zhu yu, which is a whole grilled red snapper, is phenomenal. I’m really glad it really was the entire fish, head and all! In general, it’s a simple dish with complex flavors in the savory broth, which the fish itself absorbed.
Because they were not yet serving their Peking duck as it is still being perfected, we decided to go with the goat of the day. When it was brought to our crowded table, we were surprised and delighted to find that we were supposed to eat it like Peking duck! It came with a good helping of thin dough wrappers, and we each got our individual platters of condiments, which included cucumbers, mushrooms, hoisin sauce, and a horseradish sauce. We made our own little wraps and devoured the goat! The meat itself tore apart, and the best part was obviously the skin!
And finally, we ordered the slap noodles and hongshao rou (red braised pork). Somehow, I ended up taking a blurry shot of the slap noodles as a result of the lighting, so I’m not going to share it here. But you should definitely order it because these are the best handmade Chinese noodles I’ve had outside of Chinatown! As for the hongshao rou, the fattier the pork belly used the better it will taste in my experience, and Duck Duck Goat used the fattiest pork belly I have ever consumed! In fact, I think there was just a sliver of lean meat in the piece I consumed! The dark soy sauce and other spices in this dish really came through, and I kind of wish we made a second order of it. But I guess that’s what future visits to Duck Duck Goat is for.
Overall, Duck Duck Goat is the best Chinese “fusion” restaurant I have ever been to, and the price is decent too! What I am truly impressed with is the fact that Stephanie Izard and her team have kept to the authenticity of each dish but built on it with their own fulfilling twists.
- This is a great place to come with friends – the atmosphere is vibrant, and the dishes are made to share!
- Make sure you save room for dessert. We didn’t the time I went, but my husband went again three days later (yes, it’s that good) and ordered the desserts. He said I really needed to go back for them!
- Definitely make a reservation – it is extremely popular on all nights, especially since they opened recently.