London: elegant interiors, authentic hand-crafted dim-sum and creative cocktails at Duddell's
Duddells arrives in London as the sibling to the original uber-luxe two starred Michelin hot spot in Honk Kong. Situated in the palatial Grade II listed St Thomas church in London bridge, a step stone away from the Shard and Borough market.
The concept of the space is pitched as part restaurant part art gallery as with it’s Honk Kong counterpart. Responsible for the exquisite design is the Michaelis Boyd practice, (who also did Soho Farmhouse) A perfect blend of historic and modern, retaining elements of the elegant 18th century building which have been carefully protected and restored. Spread across two floors with soaring ceilings and giant stained glass windows to maximize daylight and enormous gold chandeliers crown the entire dining room. The ground floor dining area has more of a retro vibe, with leather banquettes, brightly colored geometric flooring and carved wood paneled walls. They’ve also added an open dim sum kitchen covered with bright green tiles to imitate the 1960’s Cantonese tea houses in Honk Kong. The mezzanine level, which is on two sides views down onto the dim sum kitchen and bar.
Fresh back from Duddell’s Honk Kong and ex Hakassan executive sous chef, Daren Liew is at the helm in the kitchen delivering a lengthy menu with the presence of traditional Chinese and Western ingredients.
As I went alone and on the spur of the moment after my produce shopping at Borough market, I thought I'd give it a shot to just walk in and was pleasantly be surprised to be seated almost immediately (reservations are however required unless you walk in alone and early as I did). The staff and service was all around quick, accommodating and friendly.
After studying the menu meticulously and wishing i was with at least a group of eight diners i went ahead and ordered the Salt and Pepper Squid with Hon Shimeji Mushroom, light and crunchy on the outside with a silky texture on the inside. I strongly recommend the Wagyu Beef in Crispy Cup, each of the six crispy cups are filled with tender, beautifully sizzled bits of Wagyu beef. The Roasted Duck Spring rolls were tasty, crispy and greaseless but nothing to write home about.
The knock-out dishes at least from the chef’s recommendations (on the actual menu) and diners who have been raving about are the Supreme Lobster Noodle, a classic celebratory dish in Cantonese cooking, described as Canadian lobster braised with golden supreme stock which is cooked for 4 hours and then stir-fried with hijiki seaweed, lily bulb, ginger and spring onion. Another highlight is the Peking Duck which is carved with great ceremony tableside (Dimitris had the chance to witness and taste that on a different night last week - see below). Served with homemade pancakes, finely sliced onions, pineapple and pomelo and a trio of sauces, mandarin, hoisin and sesame. I’m definitely going back with company to try at least those two dishes and the Truffle Roasted Black Cod with Lily Bulb and Nameko Mushroom which personally sounds extremely yummy and also created especially for the London outpost.
To cleanse my palette, for dessert i opted for the Coconut and Lime Panna Cotta with Lychee Sorbet and Pandan Cremeu, Apart from the fact that it looked absolutely stunning it was packed with a punch of flavor, creamy and tangy all at the same time.
There is also and extensive wine list of old and new world wines and a separate cocktail menu serving up crafty cocktails with an Asian twist, like the Screwpine Negroni, with spiced gin, coconut and vermouth infused with Asian botanicals.