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In my November, 2022 blog I talked about our unsuccessful challenge to get from the Mandalay Resort and Casino to the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. We had a reservation at the popular restaurant, Mott 32. My son had discovered that they serve Peking duck in an extraordinary way, and we were all excited for the experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive promptly at our reservation time, and they cancelled it. We were out of luck, and out of duck.
My son and husband flew back to Las Vegas in January for a business conference and stayed at the Mirage which happens to be directly across the street from the Venetian. I reserved a table for them and confirmed that they would be dining on the Peking duck. Since they were just across the street, they arrived for their table at the prescribed time. I wondered with all the hype; would the actual experience be disappointing. We have a family text group and we all waited for their assessment in anticipation. You may be curious as to what makes this entrée so enticing. Here is the description from their website:
We begin with hand-selected special breed ducks that are 42 days old and 2kilograms in size. They are prepared over 48 hours in our custom refrigeration system with our special marinading technique and then finished in a brick oven smoked with Applewood. The duck is hand-sliced table-side, using age old techniques with a special Mott 32 signature cut which locks in all the juices. It is combined with the duck’s crispy Applewood smoked skin brushed with brown palm sugar; and topped with the succulent duck breast meat. It is served with Hoisin, peanut and sesame sauces, freshly sliced cucumber and scallions, and the thinnest steamed pancakes.
Note that the word ‘pancakes’ above translates into ‘rice paper’ to us Westerners. I’ve used rice paper and pancakes interchangeably in this blog. It is very thin, and sticky in the shape of a circle. Similar to what contains spring rolls.
Here is the description of the experience from my husband and son’s perspective: The chef at our table was obviously very schooled at his craft. The duck was presented in its totality as cooked. He ceremoniously showed us so that we could take a picture if desired. Then he carefully filleted it starting with the duck skin. He had a very sharp knife that was shaped wide so he could also use it to carry the meat. He artfully prepared the fried duck skin into bite sizes pieces on a plate and surrounded one edge of the plate with brown palm sugar. This would be our first course. Then he perfectly spaced out all the ingredients he would be using. He began to prepare the rest of the duck by delicately cutting the best part of the meat and removing the scraps. The slices were created in such a way to include the duck meat, skin, and the fat layer in between for optimum succulence. The slices were placed on a plate by the chef. The waiter brought a bowl of Hoisin sauce and placed a dollop of peanut sauce in the middle of the Hoisin, when she spun the bowl it turned into a spiral galaxy of flavor.
With the remains, the chef prepared duck fried rice. We were given a bamboo steamer to share that contained the rice paper pancakes, each divided by pieces of actual paper. We used a tong to remove a rice paper pancake topped with a piece of paper and placed it on our plates. It takes practice because the rice paper is sticky and you need to slowly peel the paper off while keeping the pancake flat. Once it’s on the plate, you add sauce, duck, cucumber and/or scallions on top. You can either fold two sides in, and roll it like a burrito, or just roll it without folding the sides since the rice paper is sticky enough to tether the ingredients. The chopsticks are used to lift the roll to your mouth, taking bites. When you’re finished with one, the process starts over again. The entire experience lasts about two hours.
Many nearby diners watched the fanfare as well. My husband and son used chopsticks even though one of them is challenged with such utensils. The entire meal was prepared in a way that made chopsticks easy to use. The taste of everything was excellent. The duck didn’t taste like anything either had had before. It melted in their mouths because of the special technique used to hold the subcutaneous fat, and they ate slowly to savor every moment. Even the duck fried rice was pleasantly unique and has become the standard for all future fried rice dishes. To borrow from a scene in a recent movie, they did not eat, they tasted. A friend commented that for the price, they could have gone to a buffet several times. But the retort was that a buffet isn’t an experience. This was.
In summary, worth it!
If you go, make reservations as far out as possible and be sure to call and confirm that you want the Peking duck. They only prepare a few for each evening and can’t adjust the quantity because of the 42 day life of the duck and the 48 hour preparation period….and don’t be late!
Random thoughts appear out of nowhere. Here is where I place them, not knowing what else to do with them as they tend to desperately want out of my head.