Duddell’s restaurant is as much about the experience of eating and the story behind the food as it is about the flavours and design of each dish. This begins in the building itself. From the outside, it looks like your typical old London haunt. It’s fairly unassuming.
But once you enter, you find yourself in a glammed-up church with both modern and classic features worked into the interiors. This mimics the dining experience itself.
Old and new are fused together throughout your time at Duddell’s. Take their Yellow Wonder cocktail as an example. They use traditional Chinese spices but somehow blend them into a modern, almost savoury tasting cocktail which has made a new entry as our favourite drink in the City.
Topping it off (literally), they place a small red edible goldfish on the glass which tastes much like bitter Campari. This cuts the spiciness of the rich drink and adds some fun to the proceedings. They use theatrics, but it’s far from feeling kitsch.
While the wine and cocktails at Duddell’s are expertly chosen and prepared, you really come here for the food.
And if there’s anything on the menu that you need to sample, it is the Peking duck. Order it either as a half or a whole and prepare for a proper dining spectacle. One of the servers will bring over the carefully prepared duck and carve it up at the table.
As a starter, they use the buttery fat, crunchy skin and a little bit of the meat itself. This is all to be eaten within their wafer thin pancakes. And this is where you tailor the dish to your own tastes. Dip in and out of some of the eight different condiments to make a hyper personalised creation.
Also, to accompany the duck as a starter, we recommend opting for the dim sum symphony; a selection of seafood dumplings each made into the shape of a small fish. Again, chefs are playful in their presentation without being tacky.
For mains, the rest of the duck returns to the table, this time cooked in one of three sauces of your choosing. It can then be served with the addition of either truffle sauce, black pepper Martell (our favourite), or ginger and spring onions. Choose whichever option you think compliments the other mains set to follow.
For there are so many options, each diner’s experience will be totally different.
But be sure to grab some of the traditional honey glazed char siu or the sweet and sour Cointreau Berkshire pork – either will satisfy your meaty needs.
Those wanting to steer clear of pork, duck and beef should get around some of the seafood offerings.
The prawns with bottarga chilli sauce is a richer and heavier dish which contrasts really well to the lighter, more nuanced flavours going on elsewhere in the menu. It grounds a lot of the other things around it and is great for those who love a good kick of spice.
The vegetable accompaniments are also a necessity, especially the simple garlicky pak choi. After all, who doesn’t love garlic? The sautéed asparagus with wild mushrooms and black truffle sauce is also delicious, but perhaps a bit overpowering. If you’re only slightly into truffles, this might be a bit much.
And if you’re ready for a proper feast, then flip through the pages until you find the rice and noodles options. These carbs will definitely fill you up if you’ve managed to get through everything else and still feel room for more.
The truffle and scallop egg white fried rice is light and easy while the wok-fried seafood vermicelli is a superb Hong Kong favourite.
End it all by getting yourself a good whisky, sake or even limoncello with dessert. Sit back in your chair and soak up the buzzing atmosphere. Breathe it all in before you step back into the outside world, away from Duddell’s somewhat fantastical dining experience.
9a St Thomas Street SE1 9RY