Duck and Rice- London’s first Chinese Gastropub!
At the spot where the Endurance pub once stood on Berwick Street in Soho, there now lies Duck and Rice, restaurateur Alan Yau’s homage to the ‘Holy’ British drinking establishment- The Pub.
With a ground floor pub and a chop suey restaurant above, Duck and Rice’s entrance invites you in to four big copper Pilsner Urquell beer tanks, making this the fifth pub in London now to have these installed. You instantly get the impression that quality and fresh ingredients are very important here.
As expected, the restaurant was fully booked and even the bar had reached capacity by 8pm, turning customers away for thirty minute periods at a time. Duck and Rice boasts a simple interior design with Chinese style floor to ceiling tiles mixed with modern round tables and décor. Unfortunately, it is not the most comfortable seating.
I was hoping for a little more traditional ‘pub feel’ rather than modern, with a sense that the menu was pushing the boundaries from the Chinese cuisine we know and love in Britain, to something more exciting and adventurous, opening up our taste buds and educating us to try different Chinese cuisines other than Cantonese.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Duck and Rice with their menu taking the ‘safe’ option. However, each dish was brought to the table packed with flavour and a real sense of authenticity knowing it’s made fresh in-house.
The bar menu is designed in a sharing style with a good selection to choose from. There was not a calorie count in sight or even the ‘V’ symbol, so good to see the staff’s menu knowledge was top notch with them confidently making recommendations.
Each menu heading gives you a clear indication of what you are ordering and the portion side- ‘Salad’, ‘Small Chow’, ‘Dim Sum’, ‘Beer Snacks’ etc.
The authentic Prawn Crackers are a far cry away from the bright, white and greasy version you may find in your local Chinese. The salt and pepper broad beans were without doubt, my favourite dish of the night. They were packed with savoury and spicy flavours, with a big hit of saltiness making the little beans very moreish.
Char Shui Bun (which had an interesting spelling on the menu, it’s normally spelt Char Siu) was served in traditional bamboo steamers with three per portion. The sweet BBQ pork filling was again packed with flavour; the only downside to this dish is if you don’t eat them quick enough, the white dough becomes quite a sticky texture by the third one.
The fried Taro Croquette, which is a potato and red onion coated in a spicy, light and crispy batter, is full of flavour and garnished with small, whole red and green chillies.
Meanwhile, the gins were quite popular and they were great, with added fruit or liquorice sticks served in oversize glasses.
It would have been nice to see some more Chinese inspired drinks and also a food and drink recommendation on the menu.