Duong Son BBQ

Photo by Tenaya HillsChicken, duck and pork—these are the sole listings on the Vietnamese/Chinese/English menu at Duong Son BBQ, a smokehouse between a jewelry store and skin-care center in Little Saigon's anarchic Cultural Court district. Plucked, steamed chickens sit in trays, eyes lifelessly staring into the Void. Roasted ducks hang limp from hooks near the entrance, beak meeting chest in an unnatural U. Barbecued hog rumps seem to float midair inside a hot box, ready for carving. Sometimes, an entire pig is on display: bronzed, massive, with a rose inexplicably placed on its snout.

No side dishes accompany Duong Son's meat—well, you can purchase some prepackaged bánh hoi noodles, but they ultimately function better as impromptu rubber bands. And you'd better buy en masse, bub—they only sell pork by the pound here, while quackers and cluckers come in halves or wholes or don't sell at all. Ask for any other size, and the English-speaking butcher will shoot you a wretched glance that he probably last deployed when viewing a portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Do things right, and the butcher swings into action like a Vietnamese Paul Bunyan. He violently snatches your request and places it on top of a wooden stump, smashing cleaver through tendon, bone and meat, chop-chopping until a fleshy mound appears where there was once creature. If you ordered the honeyed pork, he'll ladle rivers of watered-down honey over it; ordering chicken or duck provides an opportunity for the butcher to sprinkle on a thimble of a garlic-heavy sauce that's similar in pungency to the Argentine condiment chimichurri.

Don't worry about eating too much meat: you'll want to eat an unaccompanied pound of Duong Son's pork or even a complete duck. The pork features a ruddy, crisp skin; is nearly fat-free; and is roasted until it's as soft as a marshmallow. They'll hand it to you in a simple paper container, the pagoda-emblazoned kind used in American Asian restaurants since the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The container's rectangular design allows for that rich honey to pool at the bottom so you can further soak your pork chunks, producing a sugary tang. Duong Son's pork is a meat for eternity, one of the best arguments yet against PETA.

As for the bird? Chomping through the crispy skin of a Peking duck is a pleasure best shared in private with your soul mate. The steamed chicken tastes like chicken, beautiful in its unembellished directness. And if you're up for it, nothing impresses a date like a side of soy-soaked ducks' feet and pig intestines!

Duong Son BBQ, 9211 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 115, Westminster, (714) 897-2288.

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