Trying Duck at Auntie Chang's

Friday we popped over to Auntie Chang's at 2621 S. Shepherd. We decided to venture beyond the usuals (eggplant and water chestnuts in garlic sauce, lo mein, tasty steamed dumplings, and sesame chicken) and try something different. After a few minutes of perusing the menu, our eyes wandered over to the duck section. We've never had duck at Auntie Chang's, and in fact, no one we know has had duck there. We ordered the boneless duck with shrimp, meat and vegetables. Our dining companion got the staple beef in garlic sauce.

After a bowl of soup and a few mini cups of tea, our food came out. When the duck arrived, we were a little confused. There was no shrimp and no veggies with it. In fact, it looked like a chicken-fried duck - breaded and sliced, with sauce. We asked if this was our dish, and the waiter stated that it was the boneless duck in ground pepper sauce. We decided to try it anyway and were secretly a little pleased, as this dish was supposed to be hot and spicy, and the one with shrimp was not. Of course, we stole a little of our companion's beef as well.

We picked up a piece of the duck with our chopsticks and popped it in our mouth. The sauce wasn't hot and spicy at all. Not that it wasn't tasty -- we just always feel a little cheated when hot and spicy isn't really so, and this particular sauce felt incomplete. Come on! We live in Texas, and most people can stand a little heat.

Beyond the sauce, the breading and duck were pretty darn tasty. After doctoring the duck a little bit -- adding some chili oil here, picking off the fat there -- we were left with a perfectly tasty meal. Our companion's beef and garlic sauce, also supposedly hot and spicy, was pretty tame too, and a touch on the sweet side, but that was fixed that with a blop of chili oil as well. Our dining companion was crazy about both dishes, and there were no leftovers, despite two generous portions.

Maybe next time, we will give the duck at Auntie Chang's Dumpling House another chance. Or perhaps we'll just stick with the eggplant and dumplings.

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Becky Means