Disappointing Chinese fare from Alan Yau
The delay in the opening and the hype over this Alan Yau restaurant was intense. Despite this I didn’t go in looking for flaws, I was just really excited to eat at Duck and Rice. So, meeting up with a friend on a Tuesday night I suggested this place. Only to arrive and bump into my sister and her boyfriend who were on date night and trying to secure a table rather unsuccessfully.
Eventually we convinced the waitress to sit us all together. When we were led upstairs to our spot, I was shocked at how crammed in the tables were – yes this space was supposed to be for just 2 people not 4 but had it been for 2 people, it would still have been tight.
When we sat down I surveyed the room and it had been set up like a meticulously arranged, tightly packed tin of sardines. This just smelled of greedy financiers making sure their investment was being utilised to the max and I just found this rather off putting.
For me, it’s a bit of a confused space. It bills itself as a (gastro) pub. Downstairs is the supposedly laid back pub bit with upstairs housing the more formal dining area. So far, not confusing. However, the upstairs feels much grander than one would expect from a dining area in a gastro pub, which lures you into a false sense of security about the standard of the food. With Chinatown around the corner, Duck and Rice seems to be pitching itself as an upscale alternative to the restaurants you would typically find in that area, which in itself seems like a smart move.
However, the food is disappointingly mediocre and I’d be surprised if Yau wasn’t embarrassed to eat here. We had a couple of dishes: crispy aromatic duck (£22) which was a tad on the dry side; Lotus Leaf wrapped rice which was fine (£5.20) – same as at Yautcha; chilli Sichuan chicken – tiny pieces of deep fried chicken with dry red chilli, Sichuan peppercorns, spring onions and garlic (£16.50) – I’ve never tried Sichuan chicken before, so perhaps Duck and Rice’s version is authentic and as it should be but coming from an uneducated palette, I found this dish so overpowering – it looked and tasted like pot pourri in my mouth and left my tongue feeling rather numb.
I found the service to be irritatingly snooty which coupled with the very average food and not so cheap prices made me pretty sure I would not be returning to Duck and Rice. In sum, I’d say it’s a good concept poorly executed.
Avg cost incl. a boozy bevvy: c.£46-55 [££££]
Address: 90 Berwick St, London W1F 0QB
Tube: Oxford Circus
Hours: Mon – Thurs 12.00 to 23.30 Fri – Sat 12.00 to 00.00 Sun 12.00 to 22.30
Phone: +44 (0)20 3327 7888
LAST VISITED SEPTEMBER 2015