I was thoroughly excited to finally nab a table at Alan Yau's new venture Duck & Rice - a Cantonese pub. He's very cheekily chosen to open the place right next to his previously beloved venue Yauatcha (I mean, really right behind it). Not only that, you will find some of Yauatcha's stars (see below for Scallop Shu Mai and Venison Puffs). The venue is like a mish mash of the inside of distillery - with brightly polished shiny copper vats serving a variety of awesome beers - with modern Chinese and Turkish patterns scattered throughout what seemed to be an English pub. It doesn't get more Alan Yau than this.
So here's the rundown, we only had a few casual dishes as I was catching up with a gorgeous girl friend - not scoffing down food with my partner in crime. On that note, the place is perfect for catching up with a group of friends, or on a date - but not the first date.
DIM SUM STARTERS
The Scallop Shu Mai (£8.20) were a bit dryer and less succulent than when I remember from Hakkasan and Yauatcha. But the recipe is the same. It's still amazing (and piping hot!) bite into these little beauties gradually but not quite the perfect, plump little parcels you'd find in their original homes. So for 3 pieces at £8.20, only hit them up if you've got a craving.
The Vension Puffs (£4.80) are to die for. They're perfect. With sweet stewed venison meat wrapped in warm layers of buttery flakes and a tiny bit of a caramelised glaze with sesame seeds on top. Luscious.
We got the half duck and it was (half) great, which is normal. So you can see from the photo that half the duck looks slightly different from the other. Well, the part that was cut from the breast/leaner side of the duck is perfectly crispy with a small layer of fat then some succulent meat served on sauce that isn't too overpoweringly sweet (ie: Chinatown). The part from the other side however is a bit fattier, the meat was wonderfully cooked and tasty but lacked the dry crispy skin. But all in all, the duck was a sweet, greasy fix for the carnivore in you. The jasmine rice is faultless, cooked to a dry and slightly al dente perfection.
My picture does not do this duck justice.
I felt guilty and also ordered the steamed aubergines so we had some veggies in us. The pro: it was melt in your mouth perfection. The con: it was not so healthy.
They were classically Chinese. We ordered Sesame Dumplings, because I'm on a hunt for the best ones in London, and were given some Egg tarts (Pastel de nata). The sesame dumplings (ground toasted black sesame with sugar wrapped in a glutinous mochi paste and then covered in ground peanuts) were not bad. Nothing amazing either though. The dough was not particularly thin and there wasn't enough toasted slightly bitter flavour in the sesame filling inside to make it an excellent one.
The Egg Tarts steal the show. The pastry had the same warm fluffy flakey perfection as the venison puffs and the egg custard filling has a light subtle eggy balance without being overly sweet. Get them tarts, they're warm out of the oven.
Food 4 / 5
Ambience 4 / 5
Value 3.5 / 5
Food was lovely but not fantastic. But the menu is so varied and sprinkled with Chinese surprises that the Asian in me will keep coming back to try more and more. The ambience + decor was really cool, perfect for a night out with friends - especially if they love beer. Our bill with food and a bottle of water came up to £70 which wasn't the cheapest meal so value of money isn't the best but it's not bad either. Can't wait to try out the rest of the menu