Duck & Rice – Adding on to the Alan Yau empire

Duck & Rice 

90 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0QB, UK

IMG_0736One of Alan Yau’s newest addition (not that new actually as it has been around for more than a year I think) to his empire, I just thought this would be a nice place to check out during the short stay in London with the uni bud! Chic, stylish and modern, Duck & Rice would be the place I would recommend if you long for something Yauatcha-ish yet not want to be in an overly crowded restaurant. Somehow, I felt the standard of Yauatcha has dipped a little when I revisited it in 2016 as it is always so busy. The Siu mai has shrunk, some of the dim sum became less flavourful; but having said that, the patisserie corner is still as perfect! Located just beside Yauatcha, Duck & Rice offers a similar or perhaps even the same menu and you might ask then what’s the difference? Well, it’s not as cluttered (though certain areas are a little), and that somehow leads to better execution – plump dim sum that appears more luscious.

IMG_0737IMG_0738IMG_0739Yeah, the same old scallop siu mai and venison puff. Perfectly flavoured and that consistency was just spot on!

IMG_0743Prawn toast with a solid filling of springy prawn paste in it.IMG_0744And these flaky, buttery super fragrant egg tarts. Delish!

IMG_0745My personal favourite – The Jasmine smoked ribs whose tender moist meat falls off the bone readily! Intense body of tea fragrance there which makes this a must order whenever I see it.

IMG_0746You know, this wasn’t the best claypot I felt though it was legit enough. Then again, only available for a limited period only during that CNY season and I decided to have it with the bud just for the atmosphere!

IMG_0750What are you doing?! The bud exclaims as I took this at a rubbish collection point! Unflattering angle too indeed…

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5.

 

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A Wong – Fun looking dim sum

A Wong

70 Wilton Road near Victoria Station

img_0642A Wong, one of the newer establishments, that is being raved greatly by London Foodies and is really the other limited modern dim sum place that I know of after Yuatacha and Hakkasan (or basically the establishments under the famous Alan Yau empire). Perhaps one of the first, A Wong doesn’t require you to order a basket of 3 as the price of the dim sum goes by per piece. Yes, more variety that a small group could try and that is a strong selling point. Modern, loads of fusion and much thought evidently given to each morsel, some ticked while some felt… strange. My favourite still lies with Hakkasan, as every dish I got there randomly from its menu was just spot on. Well, lets take a look at some of the highlights / more interesting stuff at A Wong. £70 spent for 2 persons.

img_0648Minced rabbit meat in carrot. The plating – just too cute to be eaten so quickly. Great lightly chewy consistency in the skin of this fried dumpling while the flavour of the fillings hit the right notes, intense.

img_0662Shredded lamb in pan fried Chinese bun. Very Lamb-y, strong flavour and the different elements came together beautifully.

img_0660Wagyu beef fried rice. Not greasy, while the fried rice is filled with this coveted beef umami and strong wok hei, that is made refreshing when wrapped in that crunchy lettuce leaf. Looks Korean, doesn’t it but I thought the lettuce is just a good to have and not exactly integral.

img_0663That salted duck egg bun or liu sha bao was crazy delicious! Fluffy pillowy with a lightly crusty base, and packed with that thick, runny salted yolk.

img_0645Great ribs over here as the sauce ticks.

img_0657I was a little hesitant over this scallop salad with egg waffles though. Nice buttery crispy waffles over there but pairing it with a refreshing savoury seafood salad, I indeed have my doubts. Flavours seemed to have clashed and I think a heavy savoury pairing should work better.

img_0646This truffle xiao long bao clearly didn’t work as the truffle flavour seemed to have muted the sweet pork broth, or rather it could have been mellowed to bring out that faint truffle scent.

london-2017And the rest of the dim sum that were not too bad, very modern looking but wasn’t as impressionable as the first few.

img_0667But the toilet does have nice wallpapers for you to take a selfie. Alright, being totally random here.

A nice hang out this place is and it is part of the Michelin guide Bib Gourmand 2017, but I guess I will return to Hakkasan or even Royal China actually.

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.6/5.

 

Bao – The origin of all the bao concepts out there

Bao at Soho

53 Lexington Street near Oxford Circus Tube Station

bao1Recently turned into a cult food item, evidently so with its pervasive influence across the globe, creeping into Asia HK, Sg and even all the way down to the Southern Hemisphere to the Asia Pacific region, Australia. Otherwise a simple looking Taiwanese Street food that would have only appealed to the traditional, it has undergone a clever makeover under Chef David Chang who has reinvented the dishes, do away with the traditions to create a new generation of gua bao that has successfully attracted modern urban diners. Not just is its presentation made sleeker, the bun at Bao also expresses vividly Chef Chang’s witty interpretation of fusion and modern cooking. There we were, across the road on a chilly night of 8 deg waiting for two seats as the queue starts from the opposite side of the road.

IMG_9259Aged Beef Rump Cap with Aged white Soy Sauce. Actually tasting 80% raw with the outside slightly seared, these thin slices of beef rump was exploding with natural sweetness and umaminess together with that aged soy sauce. £6.

IMG_9255Taiwanese fried chicken with Hot Sauce. £5.

IMG_9261Sweet Potato Chips, Plum Pickle Ketchup. These were good, but maybe not so deserving of a huge rave as it could be found easily in most parts of Asia, and actually is a cheap snack in Sg (Old Chang Kee), all made magical with that sweet potato. £3.

IMG_9256But the first Classic Bao that we tasted next was quite sensational. Not a fan of the fatty pork belly, the waitress recommended the classic that uses leaner cuts that have been braised beautifully in the black stew. Very moist and tasting very tender already, it was further perfected by that generous topping of flaky grounded peanuts that gave it an extra nutty body. I am actually very impressed with the peanut there as it wasn’t bitty or grainy at all (unlike what we had at Bao Makers Singapore), that allows it to melt really easily. £4.

IMG_9258Moving on to the Lamb Shoulder bao, this was another intriguing one. Bao really knows the key to a successful bun – the sauce and the degree of moistness their meat should have. So tender the lamb shoulder has been braised to, the chef has also creatively slathered over it the luscious coriander sauce for a beautiful cut through the heavier tasting lamb. £5.

IMG_9265Guinea Fowl Chi Shiang Rice. That was the bowl that caught the attention of the old American couple beside us who eventually followed our choice. Together with the tender chicken drum or thigh, its garlic condiments and fragrantly fried shallots were all instrumental in making this work. And that yellow yolk there, lifted greatly the overall taste of this bowl with its creamy runny consistency. Definitely a dish where there isn’t a redundancy in any of the elements used. £5.75.

IMG_9268Fried Hollicks Ice Cream. I was very skeptical of this initially to be honest after a very bad experience at Little Bao Hong KongUnlike the ones at Little Bao whose buns are totally fried through without much thought, the ones over here are only fried on the outside while the fluffiness within is entirely retained. And together with the milky, creamy Horlicks Ice Cream, we enjoyed it thoroughly! £4.

bao2Some of the starters over here could have tasted simple but the real stars in the restaurants are the more complicated sides like the fowl rice and definitely like what the restaurant’s name suggests, the bao! And that was the queue when we left. 40min it should take if you are placed at the end.

Verdict: A good – excellent restaurant. 3.9/5

 

 

Hakkasan – where my favourite dim sum is!

Hakkasan

17 Bruton St, London W1J 6QB, United Kingdom near Green Park Station

12212355_10154143694723714_21956087_nNo, it’s not 10 Downing Street, but 17 Bruton Street (Yes, that plush area apparently) where this sleek, modern, clubbish Cantonese restaurant, Hakkasan is located at. Ironic it may seem but this is where most Singapore Cantonese restaurants could not surpass. Not even restaurants like Yan Ting or Mitzo, as they could in my opinion only be at most on par with Hakkasan. It is that good.

hkk1Deprived of good Cantonese food for a few days already after so many days at the different meeting areas, I have been shuttling between Yauatcha and Hakkasan to bring the bosses and I thought the standard of the former has dipped a little when I visited a few days back while the latter felt more posh with its less gaudy interior, so Hakkasan it was for us!

hkk10Feeling upbeat already when we stepped in, we were brimming with happiness literally the moment the food kept swarming in as the bosses loved every single drop of sauce and every morsel of dim sum. Starting off with the luscious scallop siu mai topped with prawn roe, that just whetted everybody’s appetite. Freshness is a given here but rather the balance in taste and that thin yellow bag there is packed generously with crunchy prawns that would put a smile to even the most picky gourmet.

hkk11Jasmine tea leaves smoked pork ribs. I remembered I was floored by this awesome dish when I first tasted it a few years back and nothing less was felt this time round as these tender meat has been thoroughly permeated with the jasmine leaves fragrance while a light smokiness has been tightly locked in each piece. Full of flavours, already visibly so from the radiant colours, both the bosses were impressed.

hkk6Truffle Roast Duck. This was a smashing hit! Priced at a whopping £35 ($70) for half a roast, we were initially unsure if we should get this to rape our wallets but the boss urged for it and I was glad we did. Initially worried that the overpowering truffle sauce might mask that fragrant fats there, it was actually a huge compliment as it coats every piece with a thick umami body. And, you get real truffles on top of the duck too! A decadent plate here indeed!

hkk12Even details in seemingly humble dishes like the char siu mui choi cheung fen are paid very close attention to. The well-glazed slithery rice skin is one that I have not had any better in Singapore and the tightly packed fluffy char siu in it together with the mui choi makes it into a lip-smacking savoury!

hkk9Fried duck leg topped with a decadent truffle each. This too was impeccable, with no greasy lips stained.

hkk8And the flavourful cod fish dim sum that has been perfectly steamed to a moist, creamy consistency that is beautifully cut through by the lightly spiced pepper sauce. Yummy!

hkk2Having a very happy tummy after the savouries, we know dessert has to be settled here. And Hakkasan does not do traditional Cantonese desserts in case you are wondering if Yang Zhi Gan Lu or Avocado puree should be ordered. Rather, French influenced ones are served which I will highly recommend. This Chocolate Bomb was mind blowing with the thick creamy peanut butter praline ice cream contained within. The condiments by the side was a mash of refreshing pomegranate and nuts that have been made extremely fun with the hidden popping candy sauce!

hkk3Pear tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and pear sauce. A more traditional French dessert here, this was perfect as the thin slices of poached pear would melt in your mouth, further lifted by that clever pear sauce. Natural sweetness tasted and with that smooth vanilla ice cream feeling excellent, we gave our approval to it.

hkk4All three desserts that we got and despite without an individual photo, we were also smitten by the macaroons with its chewy crust and adequately sweet fillings. I love the coconut one most and that green one is made from South East Asian pride, Pandan.

hkk5It was only a weekday lunch, and this restaurant is already packed with businessmen. What I love about here is the boldness of the chefs, which also extends to those from the pastry section as everything doesn’t seem contrived at all while the chefs are still able to assemble all the elements into brilliant dishes! Definitely worthy of that bright star.

hkk13And I thought I had to take a selfie in that marble toilet!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 5/5

 

 

 

Shackfuyu – buns buns and more buns, but darn lovely they are!

Shackfuyu

14A Old Compton St, London W1D 4TJ, United Kingdom near Leicester Square Station

s1Shackfuyu – Not exactly too keen to give this Asian fusion bistro a go initially, I actually left this as the last stop but am glad I still had it for my last meal in London with the buddy from Manchester. Two different menus available, we chose the lunch and that is when you could get those fusion Chinese bun burgers which I was highly skeptical of initially, due to the less tasty experience I had with Little Bao in Hong Kong that had essentially the same concept. Nice chic bistro with a pretty large interior, I love the energy of this bistro too.

IMG_9271The first bun served and I know these Chinese buns could actually be made to work into a burger concept. With such thicker and denser buns, your ‘patties’ have to be even tenderer and moister which is what Little Bao failed to understand. This Flat Iron beef slathered with a thick chipotle miso hit the spot as that slightly spicy miso, together with that heavier tasting beef was just full of umami (Never use a beef patty as it will taste really dry with that dense bao there). £5.50.

IMG_9276Grilled salmon with orange miso and yuzu mayo. That yuzu mayo was a little faint but that mayonnaise worked really well together with the heavier tasting miso, which definitely have given an extra body to the delightfully oily salmon. You could actually feel the effort placed in perfecting and pairing the sauces right. £6.

IMG_9269Crispy Duck leg with plum soy and enoki mushroom. I was worried this might disappoint as the duck leg could risk being fried dry if the timing wasn’t taken care of. Luckily, it still tasted juicy, adequately moist and fragrant to make this another hit. And though the enoki mushroom here did not help fortify the taste, it actually added an exciting crunchiness to it! £6.

IMG_9272Salmon box bento with kale cucumber in the nutty wafu dressing, tako (octopus) taco and vegetable fried rice. Simple yet adequately flavoured, this £9 bento though is evidently more westernised, could still definitely satisfy the picky Asian palates.

IMG_9281Kinako French Toast with Matcha Ice cream. This Kinako or soy bean flour, usually used on your mochi, actually worked on this thick sinful french toast as it gives it a light salted slant. And that Matcha ice cream gratified us tremendously with its intense flavour. We were impressed. £6.

s2Pretty impressed with this Asian fusion bistro, we say this bistro deserves to be checked out!

Verdict: A good – excellent bistro. 3.8/5