For those familiar with the streets of Soho, you will know how diverse it is, in particular Berwick Street, the central hub for music and vinyl in London, as well as home to a diverse collection of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. And let’s not forget the world-famous Berwick Street Market, with a history that dates back to the 18th century, a hit with locals and tourists alike. One of the concept restaurants that sits within the heart of the market is The Duck & Rice, known to serve innovative dim sum and an eponymous dish that attracts food enthusiasts from around the world.
The restaurant is hard to miss, with its distinct and striking geometrical patterned windows. On the ground floor sits the pub area where traditional British ales sit alongside brewery-fresh Czech Pilsner served from shiny copper-coloured beer tanks, whilst upstairs, reached by a spiral staircase, is the cosy and intimate dining room. For those lucky enough to grab a table by the window, it’s the ideal spot to dine whilst enjoying a bit of people-watching on the street below.
The have a wide selection of wines, available by the glass or bottle, including some ‘Monthly Finds’ which celebrates a producer, grape variety or wine region/country. I was drawn toward their list of quirky cocktails (there’s even a selection of beer cocktails) and went for the Violet’s Vesper made with Bombay Sapphire gin, pornstar, stolichnaya vodka and lillet.
The Duck & Rice menu is styled around comfort and sharing, with many of the same authentic dishes you would expect to see enjoyed in family homes across China and other parts of Asia. The dishes featured on the menu are the fruitful results of the hard work by Head Chef Hoong who has spent many years researching and refining each dish, to produce authentic tastes and fragrances to satisfy their guests.
We started with some smaller plates to share. The five spice fried chicken was crispy and juicy with a nicely flavoured batter and the prawn croquette sandwiched between fluffy bao buns were tasty too. I was glad to see that they served a selection of dim sum all-day: we had the venison puff which had a buttery, flaky pastry and contained a sweet, tender venison filling, and the scallop shumai which was delicately made and topped with fish roe. There were also other dim sum favourites available, such as the classic har gau, char siu bun and mooli puff.
From ‘The Duck & Rice House Specials’ we had the crispy aromatic duck which are typically eaten with warm Chinese pancakes, spring onions, cucumber strips and hoisin sauce. The tender meat was shredded off the bone for us and there was a good amount of crispy skin which I love.
The rest of the house specials all sounded really good, including the Lobster Cantonese noodles and the jasmine smoked pork ribs, but I guess that will have to wait for another time when we have more stomach space (!) There’s also a list of ‘Monthly Specials’: this month they are featuring a steamed king crab with glass noodles, and lobster with crispy noodles that both sound amazing.
We did however manage to squeeze in a portion of their ‘Duck & Rice’ because that’s what they’re famous for. The Cantonese roast duck was succulent with a glossy skin and nice thin layer of fat which contains all the good flavour, served on steamed jasmine rice & pieces of cucumber. I would have personally liked a bit more sauce poured over it but otherwise it was a good, satisfying dish. You also have the option to order this delicious duck on its own, available in half or quarter portions.
All meals should end with a sweet finish, and we shared the black coconut ice cream topped with toasted coconut chips which was absolutely divine.
Price-wise, it is generally dearer compared to other Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, but it is a beautiful venue where the service is efficient and the staff are much more courteous. Ideally located in Central London, it’s a trendy hidden gem that’s perfect for dinner with friends, date nights, and after-work drinks.
- All views and photos are my own.