A Damn Good Duck in Chicago at BBQ King House


[Photograph: Sheri Will]

I'm sure the Butterball folks have some ninja on retainer that will assassinate me for this, but here it is: I don't like turkey. I can stand it, but given a choice to cook any protein in the world, it's probably the last one I would. I've had it brined, deep fried, roasted, spatchcocked, and sautéed. The only time I really liked it was slathered in mole on a burrito and once at my brother-in-law's, smoked and doused in barbecue sauce à la pulled pork, but both of those experiences were more about the sauce than the meat. There was also the Thanksgiving I confited a bunch of legs. Not bad, but turkey skin cracklins aren't nearly as good as the chicken or duck variety.

Given that, last Thanksgiving I took matters in to my own hands and, though I'm sure it puts me on some government terror threat list, I banned turkey from my family's Thanksgiving table. I was also responsible for cooking everything, including White Castle burger stuffing, bourbon pecan sweet potatoes, and grilled asparagus with cheddar fried onion crumbles, so I decided to outsource the main course.

Having just received the Momofuku cookbook, I had barbecue pork buns on my mind. Normally I'd head up to Sun Wah on the north side of the city for my fix of Chinese barbecued animals, but since I didn't want to make the trek, I stuck it out closer to home and ordered a duck and some pork from BBQ King House in Chicago's Chinatown.

The BBQ King duck had crispier orange skin than the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore. Its succulent maltose-covered crust was just as satisfying as the Sun Wah version, and the pork glistening in its own slightly salty soy-marinated juices was maybe better. Turkey, it seems, has officially been banned forever from my table.

BBQ King House

2148 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago IL 60616 (map) 312-326-1219