As with any iconic dish, many cooks add their own touch to the standard Peking and roast duck recipes. And despite Miami's lack of a concentrated Chinatown, there's no shortage of devotees roasting duck their own way.
Find the city's priciest versions at Miami Beach hot spots such as Hakkasan (4441 Collins Ave.), where for $198 your bird will arrive at the table with an ounce of Petrossian caviar. Or skip the
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In South Beach at Bází (1200 Collins Ave.), Italian wunderkind Michael Pirolo dabbles in ducks from Pennsylvania's Pekin Paradise. After the birds are seasoned and sealed, they're dipped into a boiling bath spiked with licorice root, orange peel, and star anise to seize up the skin and help with crisping. Next, they're glazed in a mixture of maltose, honey, and vinegar and then hung to dry for a whopping five days — most places do it overnight. After roasting, the duck is served in four courses ($96).
Miami's newest duck can be found at Komodo (801 Brickell Ave.). Here, LIV honcho David Grutman partnered with China Grill's Jeffrey Chodorow and spent $15 million to transform the ground floor of a Brickell office building. It's everything you'd expect from the mind behind one of the nation's highest-grossing nightclubs: steep prices, thumping house music, and leggy hostesses.
"When I opened my first restaurant," Grutman says, "I had to have duck." The kitchen took out an ad in Miami's Chinese newspapers to recruit a trio of cooks dedicated to duck roasting. Forty-three-year-old Li Yu leads the group. He doesn't speak English and communicates with the rest of the kitchen crew through his phone's translation app. "We let him do it his way, the way he was trained," executive chef Tim Nickey says. Yu began cooking at 19 and was trained to roast duck at the Regal Riviera Hotel in Guangzhou, China. At Komodo, Yu switches up the process a bit but still procures that crisp skin and luscious meat. Pennsylvania ducks are seasoned, dried, and then pumped with air. Most places perform this process in reverse order.
"Some people take their duck and they just stick it in a fucking fryer," Grutman says. "We didn't want to do that."