Isn’t Soho a total gem when it comes to food? From Fatt Pundit’s mission to bring Tangra to Soho, to Kiln’s counter-culture and queues out of the door, there really is something for everyone to scoff, which is why Duck and Rice was a visit I was very much looking forward to.
This intriguing Chinese restaurant, sitting on Berwick Street, ticks a whole load of boxes when it comes to atmosphere. Having opened in 2015, you know you’re in safe hands when learning that world-renowned restaurateur Alan Yau is behind the magic of the setting; the man who set up Park Chinois and Wagamama. Not only that, but his boast-worthy CV includes the first Michelin-star outside of China, with restaurant extraordinaire Hakkasan.
The space dictates a classic British pub style, partnered with Chinese inflections in the form of Maneki-Neko (those little head-bopping cats) and Honeycomb Lanterns. As soon as you’re out of the cold, the warmth of the restaurant usurps you and, as if by magic, you’re transported into a dimly lit treasure trove of Chinese fodder. The restaurant’s soundtrack is one of chatter, as post-work people sit bums on seats to grab a chopstick and dig in. Downstairs, some of the finest British ales are served alongside brewery-fresh Czech Pilsner and moreish cocktails – the perfect place for a drink with friends to wash down plates of delicious Dim Sum.
We were seated upstairs upon visiting, in a cosy booth that looked onto a busy walkway for waiting staff. The warmth of the room was emanated in the service, with all who greet you donning smart clothes and smiles. The modern upstairs space makes for the perfect setting for lazy family get-togethers on a Sunday, or Saturday date night.
The menu at Duck and Rice is large and wholesome – think dishes you’d see on tables at family homes across China and other parts of Asia. The rustic charm of the buzzy restaurant seeps into the menu, with traditional must-try’s paving the sheets as a result of Head Chef Hoong’s many years of researching and perfecting dishes.
Of course, we tried the duck and rice – it’s only fair to when you’re in the realms of a restaurant whose name champions just that. It was delicious, served in a deep blue bowl, with generous portions obvious; the sweet and savoury flavours of the dish playing delightfully on the palette. Dim Sum is also highly recommended upon visiting. From char siu buns to creative concoctions such as the goji berry and baby spinach dumplings, it’s evident that a whole lot of thought, and taste, has nestled into these small plates.
Hero dishes include the chilli Sichuan chicken which I was tempted by; the shredded pieces of tasty chicken are enveloped by a platter of crushed, delectable chillies. But it was the chicken with cashew nut in jiang bao sauce which caught my full attention and tasted delicious. My only qualm was that the meat verged on the fatty side, but this can be a popular addition for some and so I wouldn’t deter from the dish for this reason. I partnered this with jasmine rice which hit the spot.
Doing this the wrong way around, (but I just couldn’t wait to discuss the duck and rice), the starters I’d opt for include the sesame prawn toast, delightfully crunchy on the rims and cushion-y and soft on the inside. And the fried chicken wings are also an ideal amuse-bouche layered with zingy green peppercorns. For dessert, it simply had to be the black coconut ice-cream which came in the form of three balls, black in colour which had a strong vanilla taste to them.
Unfortunately for those who love a tipple, I can say little about the alcohol as a result of an attempt at dry January that saw me lasting until around the 22nd. This meant that during our Duck and Rice trip, a Guava Collins with guava, coconut, lime and lime leaf was the order of the day. It was delicious, refreshing and punchy, and I didn’t miss wine one bit whilst drinking it – score!
All in all, I’d highly recommend Duck and Rice for its sensational atmosphere, adventurous menu and great tasting food.
The Duck and Rice can be found at 90 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0QB. For more information, visit www.theduckandrice.com