Like lamb and goat, duck is one of the more polarizing meats. Diners either abhor it or salivate over it like a cartoon wolf. As such, it's not a menu staple like other meats, and if you're lucky enough to find it, it's likely to be only one item at a time.
That's why Yauatcha, the chic Chinese eatery in the external jewel box at the Galleria is a gem hidden in plain sight. There, you'll find six ways to enjoy the fowl on the regular menu.
The most-photographed is the roasted-duck-pumpkin puff, which looks like a plate of three of the miniature gourds with which it's stuffed. But while it's doubtlessly the cutest use of the aquatic bird, the sweet, taro-puff-like dim sum are the least ducky of the bunch. Also on the dim sum menu, there's the meaty crispy duck roll, a fried egg roll in which the duck is more readily identifiable. It's ideal paired with the crispy duck salad, a palate-awakening pile of greens and crunchy lotus atop crispy duck with juicy pomelo and pomegranate, as well as pine nuts, showered around the plate.
But for the real deal, we're crushing hard on the Crispy Aromatic Duck. Eating at Yauatcha is never cheap, but the $28 quarter portion was enough for two to share with leftovers. That's because the fragrant flesh is served Peking Duck-style with scallions, cucumbers, hoisin sauce, and steamed pancakes to create wraps that stretch the meat far further than one might expect.
But if price is no object? How about black truffle roasted duck? The indulgent fattiness of the crispy skin gives way to an earthy wash of truffle. At $66, it's less of a commitment than the two-course $118 Peking Duck. Yauatcha's version of the dish is a vast break from the traditional Peking Duck you'll find just up Westheimer at Peking Duck Restaurant.
In the fashion that won the London Yauatcha a Michelin star, the duck is presented tableside before it's carved in the kitchen, with each square topped with a generous spoonful of caviar. The salt and brine of the fish eggs adds a new dimension to the shattering duck skin. That round is served with steamed buns, cucumbers and scallions. The rest of the meat returns to the table cooked in a veggie-spiked stir fry in the diners' choice of XO or black bean sauce.
With the variety of sizes and presentations, it's easy to mix and match, so why not have an all-duck dinner, with dim sum, salad and an entrée? For some it could mean fowl fatigue, but for the true mallard maniacs, few special meals can compare.