An immaculate upscale Chinese joint in a beautiful setting? Music to HotJoint’s ears
Sometimes, restaurants arrive like a fancy private yacht at a harbour and everyone stops and looks on agape at the sheer perfection and mastery, forgetting that some things require analysing and experiencing. Some places are just: wow.
Duddells, newly opened in London Bridge is such a joint. It is the outpost of a Michelin-starred Cantonese and dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. That affair is a multi-levelled, multi-personalitied upscale number serving ex-pats and business folk, and has a reputation for the finest ingredients given an international twist around a Cantonese heart.
And so to London Bridge. Not the most starry-eyed location they could choose but the building – an old church from St Thomas’s hospital – has been transformed into a temple to fine Chinese food. Turquoise tiles shine next to the original dark wood of the church; beautiful grey-blue banquettes, and a geometric-chequerboard floor all sit under a high-vaulted ceiling from which dangles stunning gold, shiny chandeliers.
A mezzanine level above the long prep bar and over the kitchen allows diners a high viewing point from which to see the rest of the dining action unfold – and we haven’t got to the food yet.
The chef, Daren Liew, is of Hakkasan heritage. Salt and pepper squid with mushrooms, crab and sweetcorn soup with asparagus, lobster noodle in a bright broth, all play the Cantonese theme; but 12-hour cooked beef shin (with sea vegetables); smoked black angus ribs with red wine soy and baby peach; and the inclusion of foie gras shows that this Duddells, like the original, is in a multi-cultural arena and is not afraid to draw inspiration from around the globe.
The dim sum are, of course, a main event and there is an old-school approach here with not so much experimentation. The bar is knocking out a few well-designed cocktails with a local twist (a St Thomas’ Antidote) and a Chinese theme (Cointreau with five spice).
London Chinese food is always in need of a little lift and here is Duddells to show how it is done. OK, the wallet might take a whack, but here is a different approach to Chinese cuisine for anyone who likes a bit of class and a bit of something different.