If the festive season is the time for bringing people together, then the sharing nature of Chinese cuisine surely makes it the food fit for the occasion.
In turn, Chinese gastropub The Duck & Rice has conjured up a big old sharing menu as its punt to feed all the merry men & women. But with so much decent Chinese food already in Soho, what does Alan Yau’s latest venture bring to the table?
For starters, The Duck & Rice oozes style. In the upstairs dining room, expect to find brown leather and dark panels interspersed with beautiful blue and white flowered tiles. The geometric partitions simultaneously create intimacy whilst showcasing the full space.
With the setting right, what about the menu? The Duck & Rice haven’t shied away from the gluttonous theme of this time of year. Our appetites were tickled by their ‘pub canapes’, including the likes of the vegetarian lettuce leaf wrap.
Other creations included traditional vegetarian spring rolls and venison puffs. The latter consisting of glazed pastry and meat spiced lightly with Christmas-y flavours of cloves and cinnamon. A festive fusion is the name of the game here.
Each delectable little parcel was critiqued & applauded by the other diners, proving that these appetisers make for a solid ice breaker with one’s outer circle.
Next came the dim sum. I’ve noticed that often with inferior dumplings the casing can come away from the filling, annoyingly (but also helpfully in my clumsy case) sticking to one’s chopstick. There was no such problem with the scallop schumai as here was a seamless entity of deliciousness.
Equally appetising was the Har Gau. Here the translucent outer casing only just concealed the succulent prawn filling within.
Not strictly Cantonese, we all still got to tuck in to the delicious staple of British-cum-Chinese restaurants; the Peking duck & pancakes.
Swaying even further afield from original Cantonese cuisine was the paneer dish. The firm Indian cheese was spiced with chilli & black pepper sauce, a delicious fusion.
The steamed seabass came with lotus root in black bean sauce, a great accompanying burst of crunch for the delicate fish. The seabass melted in the mouth. There was no chewing required for the even the laziest of Susans among us.
Everyone admired that both the curried crab and Cantonese lobster came fully suited, served with shell, pinchers and all, as they were great for getting our own claws stuck in to. These delicious show-stoppers were accompanied by lotus leaf -wrapped rice and steamed pak choi.
Needless to say by this point, here was a room full of content and stuffed people.
What more can you really ask for at Christmas?
The Duck and Rice
90 Berwick Street, London, W1F 0QB