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Tropical Chinese Restaurant's $39 Peking Duck Is A Steal

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Located at the end of an ordinary strip

mall across the street from Tropical Park on Bird Road, Tropical

Chinese Restaurant has been a hidden gem for 27 years. And

while the exterior isn't much, the interior décor transports diners

to  Chinatown, San Francisco or New York or Los Angeles. The tables are

dressed in crisp, white linen. Large, red Chinese lanterns hang from

the ceiling. Stoic, polite servers are dressed in black

and gathered in the center of the dining room. The classy ambiance is

enhanced by the Flamenco guitar music that gave way to jazz during

the course of the evening when I visited recently.

The open kitchen, which is

enclosed by glass windows, allows guests in the main dining room to

watch cooks diligently chop, saute, and steam. It is in there magic happens to a Peking duck. Located under the appetizer

heading of the menu, the Peking duck ($39) is really an entree

that easily feeds two.

Roasted in the kitchen to a perfect

combination of succulent meat and crispy skin, the whole duck is

brought into the dining room on an oval tray and prepared table-side. One server begins trimming the bird while the

other carefully rolls the crispy strips into a flour pancake

with scallions, cucumber, and plum sauce. A bowl of plum sauce is

then placed on the table. Two stands of five rolls are set on the

table. There are complements of sweet and savory, hot and cold,

smooth and crisp textures. The rest of the duck goes back to the

kitchen for prepping as an entree.

Just as the duck rolls were

being finished, a tray came out with the meat of the bird, including

two legs, served stir-fry style with bamboo shoots, peppers, and

carrots. Two sides of white rice were brought out as well. The

stir-fry is a rich combination of flavors that don't detract from the

integrity of the main ingredient: the Peking duck.

Fortune

cookies with lousy fortunes, and orange halves are brought out at the end of the meal. These are complimentary.With a pot of hot tea ($1 per person),

the total for two of us came to $44.28 plus tip. I'd say that's a

steal for a Saturday night date.

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