A STICK UP Shrimp Slap noodles and twice-cooked pork
At Duck Duck Goat, chef Stephanie Izard has nothing to apologize for—except, perhaps, the difficulty in snagging a reservation—even though servers at her West Loop restaurant sheepishly describe the food as “reasonably authentic Chinese.” That disclaimer appears on the menu too. Maybe that’s directed at those who might assume a chef known for oven-roasted pig face (Girl & the Goat) and riffs on classic diner food (Little Goat) won’t know how to make great Chinese food. They’d be wrong.
In their defense, this isn’t what you’d expect for the third restaurant from the Top Chef winner and her Boka Restaurant Group partners. DDG’s stunning interior inspired by America’s Chinatowns, however, does reflect the group’s passion for eye-catching decor. But after a Little Goat Sunday Supper focused on Chinese food, Izard took the idea and ran with it. “At first, it was meant to be this simple, small restaurant,” she says. “Then we went to China and Taiwan, and what we thought we knew about Chinese food we didn’t really know at all.” Izard and her staff are quick learners, both for dishes rooted in China’s ancient cuisines and those that got their start here.
Take, for instance, the xiao long bao ($11), those hard-to-find soup dumplings that are even harder to make. Here, the delicate wrappers are filled with pork, crab and wonderfully aromatic broth. Scallion pancakes ($9) have a perfect one-two punch of chewy interior and crispy exterior. The shrimp-toast expert at my table didn’t mind the lack of deep-frying and instead proclaimed the dish ($15) to be “fluffy” and “deliciously like a shrimp roll.” The plump duck egg roll ($9) was quickly devoured. Those looking for something more adventurous won’t be disappointed with the wood-fired duck hearts ($12). Served on a skewer, the tender bits of offal sport a smoky-sweet Korean barbecue flavor. Pair them with the refreshing Lavender Lady cocktail ($13) made with gin, sparkling wine and lychee-lavender syrup.
And this is just the dim sum menu section. DDG also offers soup, fried rice, cold dishes and noodles, including the aptly named Slap noodles ($17), which you can watch—and hear—being made in the open kitchen. If you’ve brought friends, get the Peking duck ($58). Served with its head attached, it’s as good as any you’d find in Chinatown.
What you won’t find in Chinatown are desserts as delicious as those of Pastry Chef Nate Meads (Nellcôte), including Taiwanese pineapple cake with cashew ice cream ($10). And forget about traditional fortune cookies. Here, you’re rewarded with a pin with an image of a fortune cookie on it. Don’t worry; there are housemade almond cookies too. “If at first you don’t succeed, try at least two more times,” said mine. If it’s referring to getting a reservation at DDG, it’ll take more times than that.
DUCK DUCK GOAT
857 W. Fulton Market, 312.902.3825
Open for dinner nightly; dim sum brunch Sun.