I was intrigued to see if Duddell’s, billed as one of Hong Kong’s current must-visit restaurants, lived up to its reputation. Owner Alan Lo describes eating here as “like stepping into the beautiful house of an art collector, without bedrooms” and this much is true.
London-based designer Isle Crawford, former founding editor of Elle Decor, is the creative brain behind the interiors, which combine her impeccable taste with some great art. Contemporary styles and finishes are mixed effortlessly with furniture design classics and a nod to the restaurant’s Asian location; in the library, Ming Dynasty chairs sit atop polished grey travertine; in the dining room, a yellow velvet upholstered banquette faces a wall of framed Chinese fans. The aim was to create an inspiring space, a restaurant cum gallery and members club for Hong Kong’s creatives to gather.
We settled in for the Saturday Salon Brunch, including free-flow Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut ($580 per person). This is Cantonese fine dining in a relaxed tapas style.
The menu is split into sections; Dim Sum, Snacks, Soup, Mains, Rice and Noodles and finally Dessert.
We started with a selection of dim sum, all freshly cooked to order. The baked barbecued pork puffs encased in a buttery pastry were melt-in-the mouth delicious. The steamed shrimp dumpling with matsutake mushroom and with the steamed chicken and pork bun with coriander were both tasty, if a little subtle. The unusual addition of cheese to the crispy spring roll with shrimp was luxurious. But it was the steamed rice roll with beef, water chestnut and dried tangerine peel that stole the show.
Moving on to the Snacks, we enjoyed the marinated beef shin cube and marinated pork knuckle, both served cold. However, the outstanding dish was the crispy smoked duck breast – soft smoked duck with perfectly crisp skin so delectable we just had to order a second portion. This really is the beauty of Duddell’s; when one dish shines, simply order again and sip more champagne.
We skipped the Soup section because in spite of the small, delicate dishes, there was still so much more to try.
From the Mains, pan-fried beef tenderloin with onion sauce was the show-stopper. Sauteed shrimp with chilli sauce and garoupa fillet with black bean sauce were also beautifully cooked. And the steamed fried rice with pork in lotus leaf offered wonderfully contrasting textures.
Finally, at our waiter’s insistence, we managed just one dessert, chilled avocado sago cream with chocolate – a most unlikely combination which left us pleasantly surprised and ultimately satisfied.
Our final word?
Michelin-starred chef Siu Hin Chi shows immense skill and expertise combining surprising ingredients, resulting in a truly fine dining experience.
Must-try dish: Pan-fried beef tenderloin with onion sauce
Duddell’s, Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell St, Central
2525 9191 | duddells.co
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