Decoy – Red Farm’s duck house

To continue my drawn out birthday extravaganza, we continued to eat duck.

Red Farm is an upscale Chinese restaurant in West Village. Even though I’ve been there many times, the stars never aligned, and I never posted about it. In any case, I like them for their crab and duck dumplings, oyster shooters with caviar, steak, and the fact that they use 1/2 in their address. Naturally when they turned their downstairs into a duck restaurant, I was more than curious.

It didn’t take me long to get over the price shock though…  it’s 85 per person for the prix fixe (1/2 a duck per person or .25 duck and .25 steak per person) which includes a lot more other items than peking duck house, which charges you $48 for the duck alone and all the other courses suck. But upstairs, at Red Farm, they charge you double for inedible rice/noodle dishes and 4x for the dim sum compared to comparable Chinatown fare. So it’s almost as if I’m getting a discount.

Some might factor in West Village, hip scene blahblah, but we were surrounded by 8 gurgling babies so that point is moot. However it is nice to walk around without people throwing fish guts at your feet.Photo Oct 05, 5 52 34 PM Photo Oct 05, 5 53 17 PMThe dinner started off with some pickles and fish chips 8/10: The pickles had a variety of different veggies and sauces. But it was the fish chips that were most interesting. It’s the skin of some fish that’s crisped to a potato chip quality. I guess I”d rather have omega 3 fatty acids than other fatty acids?

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Oxtail dumplings 10/10: Decadent, savory, juicy. And red farm/decoy has a thing for making nice crispy fry-able dumpling skin. Hmm! no veggies needed.

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Octopus salad 6/10: Good, nothing special. The octopus was slightly chewy… someone back there didn’t massage it long enough, or left it in the boiling water for too long. What a shame.

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Foie gras tarts… shaped like ducks!! 9/10: The foie gras quality was 9/10. For excessive strawberry jam that was cloyingly sweet, I deducted 2 points. But then I’m a sucker for hilarious looking food, so I gave 2 points back for the fact that it looks like a duck. I think it would make sense with just the strawberry fruit and then maybe a little gelee – something that’s lighter on the palate and doesn’t affect the consistency of the rich foie gras.

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Sweet potato noodle salad 1/10: This bordered on inedible. Luckily they served very little. I was expecting glass sweet potato noodles like japchae. I have no idea what was going on here. Also someone dumped a bucket of salt onto the sauce at the bottom. I don’t give points <4 very often, because that’s why I do research before reserving.

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Peking duck 10/10: What I love about this peking duck is that it has all the qualities that *I* associate with a peking duck. Crispy skin, succulent duck, thin wrappers not steamed buns; cucumber and scallion on the side. But what makes the duck stand out the most is that peking duck (as in the type of raw duck) is extremely fatty, and even though the meat and skin were perfectly cooked, there wasn’t oil dripping out of the duck slices. I really enjoyed that, because then I didn’t feel like I needed to wash my insides with a pot of tea. Sorry fellow Chinese people. This way is better.

That random shot of duck consommé? Random. Did the chef visit Ma Peche too many times or something?

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Crab and scallion fried rice 8/10: Despite the fact that all the rice dishes in the upstairs Red Farm tasted about 5 days too old, this rice dish was excellent. Rice was perfectly cooked, the flavors were balanced and not too salty. Maybe after I quit eating the rice dishes at Red Farm 3 years ago, they fixed something.

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Shrimp 5/10: Oversalted, overcharred, overcooked.

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Asparagus: 6/10 eh. Very nicely cooked and tender, but it wasn’t anything special. I couldn’t have eaten this on its own.

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Steak 9/10: Same as the one at red farm upstairs. It might not be the most expensive cut of steak, but it’s very well cooked and possibly drugged with something addictive in its sauce. I deducted for the fact that we got even more asparagus instead of pea shoots. I would have loved me some pea shoots!

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Drink! There’s a duck on it! 9/10: I don’t know what I had but it was delicious. I think they whipped up some duck fat into egg whites or something to make the foam.

*We also had a mango pudding which was quite good. I’d give it 7.5/10, but I was buzzed and forgot to take a picture*

Overall this experience wasn’t as inconsistent as the scores would make it seem. The main dishes were all excellent, and it was just a couple sides that were questionable. I would definitely go back, and I’ll just tell them that I’m allergic to sweet potatoes next time. (I actually love sweet potatoes.. shhh)

Also this dinner reminded me for the 5000th time, that the meal is only 50% about the food. The rest is all about the company.

Thank you to all the friends who came to this dinner!!


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