There are times, few and far between, when the experience of eating a meal becomes a poetry all its own. When time and place and circumstance conspire to elevate what could be mundane into something triumphant, elegant and nuanced that tickles the tongue and inspires the senses. Such is the clay roasted duck at Dha Rae Oak.
It is a humble space, even bordering on tacky. All bright lights and boxes of sake and beer stuffed in corners. It is not known for its service, as few servers speak English. It offers up the usual panchan, none of which are especially worthwhile on their own. But then, there is that duck. Stuffed with sticky rice, fruit, nuts, sweet potato and a whole host of other sensory surprises, this is a perfect meal for autumnal nights or winter’s darkest days.
To experience this delicacy one must order at least four hours in advance. Upon arrival the table is littered with panchan, salad and miso soup.
It is but the modest appetizer for a symphony that is about to play out in your mouth. Because the ducks are proffered, and there will be multiple ducks if you are wise, within minutes of your arrival. They are steaming birds, served on cheesecloth, that are cut open by the maestro and one is immediately assaulted by the pungent fragrance that they emit.
The few minutes spent waiting for the duck to cool is an agonizing time, because the sheer beauty of these beasts leads one to believe they are about to experience a gustatory experience unlike one they’ve previously enjoyed. And they would be right. Because each bite of moist, tender duck is unique, a deft interplay between the meat and the stuffing it has spent four hours being cooked with.
This is a singular experience. This is culinary nirvana. When the meal is finished, when you have torn the bird clean and licked your fingers of all the succulent flavor, you will drive yourself home on a rainy night, the streets slicked like a scene from Bladerunner, just as The Monster does. Fully sated and in confidence that this is one of the great meals to be had in Los Angeles.
Why go? You admire perfection.
Monster rating: 5/5 Monsters
1108 South Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006