Restaurant: Mark’s Duck House
Location: 6184 Arlington Blvd # A, Falls Church, VA 22044 703-532-2125
Date: April 23, 2011
Cuisine: Cantonese Chinese
Rating: Very very good cantonese.
This seeming hole in the wall in Falls Church Virginia features some of the best Cantonese food I’ve had in the states. So much so that wine guru (and foodie) Robert Parker is constantly eating (and tasting) here.
You can spot an authentic Chinese restaurant by the unassuming facade.
The minimalist decor.
The menu of sketchy meat cuts unsuited to white-bread American taste.
This was a late night family dinner, so Chinese beer seemed to suite the mood.
I’ve loved hot and sour soup since I was a kid, and this is an exemplary example. Basically perfect.
Classic Har Gow, little shrimp dumplings wrapped in rice pastry. Delectable too, as good as at various Dim Sum joints like Ping Pong, The Palace, or Xino.
They even have their own special sweet and vinegary soy for them.
And the deadly hot chili oil.
But there is one real reason why one goes to a restaurant named “Mark’s Duck House.” The pecking duck! Crispy roast whole duck is carved off the bone and brought to the table.
With the traditional scallions.
And my all time favorite, the plum sauce. This stuff has a sweet and tangy quality typical of Chinese cuisine that I just can’t get enough of.
All of the ingredients are combined in a pancake.
And then rolled into a burrito like shape. This is a delectable mix of textures and flavors. The rich duck meat, the crispy skin, the hot dripping fat off the duck, the tangy sauce, the scallions, the dry texture of the pancake. Yum! And this is as good a duck as I’ve had in the states. We wen’t to a place in Bejing a couple years back where we had three whole ducks each done a slightly different way and flayed at the table by a master carver who could have had a part in Kill Bill. That was some serious duck, and slightly better. Still, you don’t have to go all the way to China for great duck like this.
Lobster, causeway style, in crispy garlic, chillies, and chives. I’d never had this exact dish before, but it was wonderful. The closest I’ve had was at a Chinese friends 20-some course wedding banquet where the lobster was sauteed in a ginger garlic sauce. This version is dry (more or less), a little bit hot, and vary garlicky. But damn good!
Sauteed chive blossoms in oil and garlic. We asked the waiter for a vegetable recommend and out came this seasonal dish. Chive blossoms. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, and it looks like a big pile of chives. It turned out to be one of my favorite Chinese vegetable dishes in the states. Again in China I had some crazy good stuff, including one or two great all vegetable meals, but these were nice and garlicky again, piping hot.
Mark’s Duck House never fails to disappoint, but the menu is gigantic and potentially perilous. There are like 12 pages of densely packed dishes. Abalone, sea cucumbers, shark fin, you name it. One time a couple years ago we ordered oysters in garlic and ginger sauce and got this plate with three monstrous oyster beasts we nicknamed the “Grenades.” Each was about the size of a World War II weapon of the same name. Just the meat of the oyster, the size of a grenade!