A slick, fine-dining restaurant that serves show-stopping Cantonese food in an equally impressive setting.
Duddell’s restaurant review
Michelin-starred Duddell’s has been a port of call for aficionados of high-end Cantonese cooking in Hong Kong since 2013, and now this uber-luxe outfit has opened a second outpost in London Bridge.
The restaurant’s setting alone – the Grade II-listed Queen Anne edifice of St Thomas’ church – suggests the Duddell’s team are out to impress. Designer Michaelis Boyd has sensibly let the elegant, 18th-century proportions of the space speak for themselves and added subtle modernising touches, from the open kitchen/bar to brass shelves and terrazzo worktops. Ceilings soar so you won’t feel cramped wherever you are, but for the best seats opt for the vertiginous, semi-private mezzanine, which overlooks the whole restaurant.
Ex-Hakkasan chef Daren Liew heads the kitchen, delivering a lengthy menu packed with classically inflected Cantonese dishes, from dim sum and double-boiled soups to sweet and sour pork and XO beef shin. Traditional Chinese and Western ingredients both make their presence felt on the menu, with the likes of lily bulb and abalone for the former and truffle, Berkshire pork and Welsh lamb for the latter.
Star billing during the meal was shared by two dishes. Peking duck, roasted to caramel-coloured perfection, came with an intricate array of accompaniments that included homemade pancakes, fennel sugar, cucumber, pineapple, pomelo and spring onion, plus three different sauces – we especially liked the aged mandarin and plum.
The second stand-out plate was the supreme lobster noodle – a classic celebratory dish in Cantonese cooking. This came as a big platter of noodles and large chunks of shell-on lobster that had been braised in a rich stock and then stir-fried with seaweed, lily bulb, ginger and spring onion. Sumptuous in design and execution, it was Chinese seafood cookery at its best.
Less showy but also impressive in terms of skill and technique was the crispy salted chicken with spiced salt. A Poulet de Bresse fowl, cooked in a broth with parma ham, dried scallop and shrimp before being air-dried for 12 hours, was then finished in hot oil to crisp up the skin. This process resulted in some of the juiciest chicken we’ve tasted, with a deeply savoury flavour and addictively salty, crunchy skin.
The dim sum symphony, a Duddell’s speciality, arrived in the form of finely made prawn, king crab and scallop dumplings. Enjoyable, too, were honey-glazed char siu pork pieces and pan-fried chicken dumplings. Fat, deep-fried prawns with a yuzu-lime leaf sauce were ultra juicy, while a dish of abalone – a large mollusc prized as a delicacy in Chinese cuisine – was too chewy for our tastes.
Desserts were light and pretty. A dish of pineapple spiked with szechuan pepper, vanilla-baked yogurt and pineapple sorbet was pleasant enough but we couldn’t detect the pepper, while coconut and lime panna cotta with lychee sorbet and pandan cremeu had lovely toasted notes.
The elegant bar, covered in jade-green tiles, makes Duddell’s worth a visit even if you’re just having drinks. Check out the extensive (and costly) wine list, or sample its roster of Asian-inspired cocktails, of which we loved the aromatic Screwpine Negroni, made with pandan-infused gin and suze-washed coconut oil.
Menu must-order at Duddell’s
The peking duck was spot on: perfectly tender meat and expertly bronzed, crispy skin. We also loved the theatricality of how it was served, carved dextrously at the table by our waiter. The lobster supreme noodle was another showstopper, highlights including soft, perfectly cooked crustacean and an intense, bisque-like sauce.
The abalone rice. This dish came with four large molluscs and they had a slightly rubbery, chewy texture that made them hard to eat. The flavour was good, though, so it might be more successful served in chunks amongst the rice.