What happens in Hong Kong doesn’t always stay in Hong Kong, and occasionally for the better. Duddell’s is something of an institution in the fast-moving metropolis – a members’ club and restaurant where well-shod expats nurse – and nurture – hangovers beneath au courant art works. It has now opened in London, beside Guy’s Hospital and The Shard in the old St. Thomas’ Church. A palette of brass and teal by designers Michaelis Boyd, inspired by traditional 1960’s Hong Kong tea houses, sets it out as a moody cocktail-heavy destination – and the tailored shirt clientele suggests a loyal crowd from across the water in the Square Mile.
Eastern promise: Duddell’s serves up Cantonese delights
5th January 2018
Offering delicious authentic dishes in an atmospheric former church, Duddell’s is the slickest new Chinese restaurant to open south of the river
Sticking to a Dry January regime, we opt for a couple of their mocktails; the Fragrant Harbour – made with yuzu purée, Chinese five-spice and mint – and the Gram, a mixture of Szechuan and saffron syrup, pineapple juice, almond syrup, pomegranate and plum essence. Both err on the sweet side.
We order some crispy squid, which come in a feather-light batter, delicious when dunked in some of the homemade XO chilli sauce.
Though the restaurant is famous for its dim sum, past dim sum hour (we are there for dinner, after all), we try the sampler instead. These steaming parcels are highlights of the dinner – a melt-in-the-mouth prawn dumpling, jade-leaf king crab dumpling and scallop and prawn; all gold standard.
A half Peking duck comes with eight accompaniments, including classic plum sauce alongside a nutty sesame sauce and one made with aged mandarin. Pomelo and pineapple don’t work for us, but the duck itself is beautifully cooked; the skin dipped in a fennel sugar is a treat. The second course of the duck is a chic portion of the leg meat stir fried with ginger and spring onion.
A main course of char sui pork is a touch too sweet for our liking, but then it is glazed with honey, so probably our mistake. Feeling carnivorous even in our yearning for vegetables, we opt for stir fried kai lan with minced chicken – the greens are appreciated after our emperor-style feast.
While some of the dishes – and cocktails – may have been a bit too sweet, this is a slick, well-groomed operation that has enough authenticity and glitz to keep both fans of Cantonese cooking and glamoroupusses happy.
For more details, visit duddells.co/london.