In a nut shell
One of Pop Brixton’s newer arrivals draws inspiration from the roast meat shops and traditional canteens of Hong Kong to present a modern take on classic Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant’s name gives a clue as to what’s on the menu—namely roast fowl, and lots of it.
Oli Brown, former head chef of Le Café Anglais and The Continental Hong Kong, aims to bring the style of the democratic and affordable eateries he discovered in the far east back to London.
Lusciously roasted meat is the name of the game here and Duck Duck Goose’s concise menu revolves around the staples of Cantonese barbecue: roast duck, char siu pork, pork belly and goose, all of which are air-dried and roasted on the restaurant premises in a custom-built air dryer and duck oven. There’s also a roster of other classic Hong Kong dishes to choose from, such as whole sea bass steamed with soy, ginger and spring onion or turnip cake with ceps and mustard greens.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
As befits its setting—a shipping container—Duck Duck Goose is cosy, with just 24 covers (expect to make friends with your neighbours). Designer Jamie Julien Brown took his cue from the utilitarian cha chaan teng cafes of post-war Hong Kong to create a retro yet functional space: think terrazzo vinyl floor tiles, orange and red butcher lights, pink booths and pegboard walls accented with inlaid mahjong tiles.
Menu must-orders and misfires
Duck Duck Goose’s take on prawn toast will banish any memories you may have of the soggy numbers found in many Chinese takeaways across the country. This doorstep slice of deep-fried white bread and succulent prawn mousse was a delightfully kitsch creation that we devoured swiftly. Fronds of curly endive, kewpie mayonnaise, pickled kohlrabi and delicate flakes of bonito added a sprightly counterpoint to the fatty richness of the toast.
Naturally we had to order a selection from the Cantonese barbecue for our mains, eager to see whether Duck Duck Goose could deliver on the tempting smells of roasted meat emanating from the kitchen.
The restaurant sources its meat from award-winning west London butchers HG Walter and the quality is evident on the plate. Roast pork belly was buttery and tender and came swimming in juices fragrantly scented with five spice, while the char siu was juicy and beautifully coloured. Star of the platter was the roast duck, particularly its caramel-hued crispy skin. Delicious sweet-sour home-made pickles, a fiery mustard and a plum sauce proved elegant accompaniments.
The cha chaan teng french toast was an absurdly decadent conclusion to the meal—a bronzed slab of sweet eggy bread oozing with peanut butter and drizzled with condensed milk. It was partnered by a condensed milk and soy ice cream that packed a pleasing umami punch.
It’s a short drinks list with no huge surprises. There’s a small selection of mostly European wines, the usual soft drinks and a couple of craft beers. We kept it and simple and opted for Chinese Tsingtao beer.
Londoners may wonder if there is a need for a new eatery that specialises in Canton classics when the city is already liberally sprinkled with Cantonese restaurants, many of which, such as Chinatown’s Four Seasons, already do wonderful roasted meats. However, there’s plenty to suggest that Duck Duck Goose is absolutely worth a repeat visit, combining an admirable precision and simplicity with a generous approach to cooking premium ingredients. Just make sure you order that prawn toast.
49 Brixton Station Road,
Words by Hannah Guinness
Photos by Camille Mack