The pub/restaurant is the latest opening from Alan Yau, the man who previously created Wagamama, Yauatcha and Hakkasan. On this occasion, we tried out the downstairs pub (although I plan to head back to try out the upstairs restaurant – stay tuned for a review!)
Duck & Rice is a great spot for a pint after work or a more substantial catch-up with friends. The interior is well decked out with copper accents and a combination of low and high tables, which lends a bit of a lounge bar feeling to the space.
The lounge jazz covers playing in the background also add to the ambiance. While your friends are at the bar, you can amuse yourself by choosing the playlist – just connect to the (free) Duckbox WiFi, go to the Duck & Rice website, and choose your preferred song from the jukebox list (my choice was Carolina’s cover of Feelin’ Good).
There are eight beers and one cider on tap, all of which pair well with the selection of fried and spicy foods on offer. If none strikes your fancy, there’s also an extensive choice of bottled beers and beer cocktails. I can also attest that they know how to do a mean G&T, and there’s even a Guava Collins mocktail for those keeping dry.
But it’s the food that you really come here for. Whether it’s a quick meal or just some beer snacks, Duck & Rice has you covered. In usual pub style, you need to order at the bar, but the food will be delivered to your table.
We started off light, with some soft shell crab and wasabi mayo (£11.50), scallop shu mai (£8.20) and venison puff (£4.80), all of which were delicious. I was less impressed with the fried Japanese fish fingers (£8.50) and the beer batter scampi with chilli wasabi mayo (£11.50), which were overpriced versions of the food you’d get in a less impressive venue.
However, the D&R Sliders (jasmine tea smoked pull rib bun – £11.50 for three) were really enjoyable, and probably one of the best value items on the menu. The salt and pepper squid (£10.50) was perfectly cooked and is also highly recommended.
However, it was the chilli Sichuan chicken (£16.50) that left the biggest impression on me. This dish is intense. The chillis are decorative but the heat they impart combined with the numbing, tingling heat of the Sichuan peppercorns (which I was informed are used fresh rather than dried for extra intensity) left me with a mouth on fire. It’s almost too much but if you like extreme spice, you have to give this one a go at least once.
The good: The D&R sliders and the soft shell crab are the highlights of the menu. Enjoy them with a pint!
The bad: Avoid the fish fingers and the scampi – if you want something greasy, check out the dim sum menu.
The insider tip: Just a reminder: don’t eat the chillis in the Sichuan chicken!