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Given the colossal hype surrounding its launch in 2015, the fact that Hakkasan founder Alan Yau’s plush ‘pub’ is packed with Pilsner Urquell drinkers and Chinese food fans is hardly surprising. “Vibrant, buzzing, yet elegant” sums up the mood, while the high-spec design features gleaming beer tanks, open fires and Chinese-style blue-and-white ceramic panels. Calmer corners can be found upstairs in the first-floor dining room, where a muddled one-page menu covers dim sum, chow mein, chop suey, crispy duck and various bites. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the fiery Szechuan chicken or the melting jasmine-smoked pork ribs. However, D&R’s more traditional dishes are barely above the bog-standard Chinatown norm, making much of the menu seem overpriced – order wisely from the capable staff to ensure the best outcome. Ale-based cocktails (Beer Negroni, anyone?) are joined by “amazing Gin Mares” and a big selection of French-led wines, while weekends are for dim-sum brunching. Finally, an events programme including bingo nights and drag-queen quizzes is exactly what the area needs.
Located on the permanent building site that is Berwick Street in Soho (will they ever finish digging up that road?) this is Alan Yau’s latest restaurant. You know Alan Yau, the chap who created Wagamama and sold it for millions then did the same with Yauatcha and Hakkasan.There’s a downstairs bar/pub and a restaurant upstairs at the top of a rather tiny spiral staircase. The dining room was cramped to say the least; I felt like I had to move my chair in and apologise for being in the way every time someone walked past, which never makes for a relaxing lunch...
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Scrumming my way off Leicester Square, through Chinatown (carefully avoiding my favourite char siu bao pitstop), and into Soho, I realise I've walked straight into an entirely different calamity. It's 18 April and a sea of moustache-twiddling craft ale supping hipsters have descended upon Berwick Street and are seeping through the arteries of Soho for Record Store Day 2015. It may well have been the worst day to visit the newly opened Duck & Rice then, but I was committed now and I'm no quitter!Char Shui Bun (£4.50) Brought to us by the stick of dynamite underneath modern Japanese monster-chain,...
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On Berwick Street, right next to Yauatcha is Alan Yau’s Chinese Gastropub, The Duck and Rice. Slightly posher than your average Chinese restaurant, the Duck and Rice has a lovely buzz about it. you walk in you see massive copper beer vats of Pilsner Urquell. The downstairs area is the “pub” area.
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Soho is changing. The redevelopment of what was once one of London’s most bohemian (and most seedy) areas is showing no signs of slowing down. This restaurant reviews website isn’t the best place to talk about the myriad issues surrounding urban regeneration, but it’s difficult not to have this pressing, emotive issue in mind when writing about The Duck and Rice. Situated in the premises that used to be home to The Endurance, an old, slightly grungy pub that also hosted several pop-up restaurants, this Chinese gastropub is the latest venture from famed restauranteur Alan Yau.The Duck and Rice couldn’t be...
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The Duck and Rice is the latest outlet by design supremo and superstar restaurateur Alan Yau who is best known for the Michelin starred Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, and the high street dining chains Wagamamas and Busaba Eathai. With The Duck and Rice, Yau pays “homage to the ‘holy’ [sic] British drinking establishment” by converting what was once the rather shabby Endurance Pub into a modern day boozer on the ground floor and a funky Chinese restaurant on the first.
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The Endurance used to be one of my favourite pubs. It’s central, got a taxidermied bear, a jukebox and cheap drinks. It was a little ‘further off the beaten path’ in the early noughties when Berwick street was a slightly underdeveloped anomaly in Soho, and therefore much quieter than the John Snow. Every night that started at the Endurance was guaranteed to be a winner (mainly because they tend to end at the infamously so-terrible-that-it-was-fabulous Trash Palace, which sadly also no longer exist).
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I wonder what was going through Alan Yau’s mind when he decided to combine a Chinese restaurant with a pub. Not exactly a marriage made in heaven; the only connections I can think of are that beer is often served in one, and deep fried nibbles such as spring rolls and wontons can sometimes be found in the other. Sensible people wouldn’t put money on that kind of thing succeeding in London’s cut throat restaurant scene, but Mr Yau’s Duck and Rice doesn’t need the sensible people. A few years old now, it seems to be doing just fine.
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