By Karl Wilder
Ho Kee Cafe is legendary in Los Angeles for its roast duck.
But like many legends it did not quite live up to it's overhyped reputation.
Seating was fast, tables were shared which makes for a convivial dining experience. It is not so common in the US, but nice when it happens.
The restaurant is clean and if you look into the kitchen you can see the ducks hanging, a hopeful sign. Cases of fresh vegetables are strewn everywhere and the staff is working as fast as possible, looking after duck chopping, multiple woks, soup pots, steam pots and more. Lots more.
Let's begin with the vegetables, as one should at every meal. What I love about Chinese style vegetables is that they tend to torture them and not kill them. However here, they were slightly overcooked, possibly to cater to the US-ian taste of mush that so many choose for their vegetables. Not my idea.
And now to the duck....quite tasty, none was left behind. They manage to get a crisp skin with a succulent meat. Yet to my taste something was lacking. I am used to the Hong Kong style of duck, more intensely flavoured with 5 spice, star anise and soy. The tastes here were gentle, possibly of the Canton style.
If you can't get to New York or Hong Kong, it works at a pinch.
Expect to pay around $15 per dish including tax and service.
Ho Kee Cafe 533 S Del Mar Ave San Gabriel, CA 91776
No credible public transport – use cab service