Chinatown is the land of a thousand ducks, lacquered to a sweet mahogany shine and hanging in rows behind windows for the ulimate hunger-inducing tease. These roasted, bone-in birds (rather than boneless, crispy-skinned Peking duck) are the primary ingredients for many of the neighborhood's best dishes. But who makes the best? We gathered a flock of contenders and nibbled them side-by-side for a Chinatown "duck-off." My overall favorites are listed in order, but for the ultimate duck feast, I vote for a combo plate of Siu Kee's bird with Sang Kee's gravy.
- Craig LaBan
1. Siu Kee Duck House
111 N. 10th St., 215-922-3075; www.siukeeduckhouse.com
The skin was a more honeyed hue than mahogany brown, and had the best balance of delicate snap and creamy fat. The velvety meat was by far the most tender, with vivid flavor. The gravy was herbaceously intense, but borderline salty, keeping it from perfection.