“Chinese food… but in a non-greasy, guilt-free way!”, this reboot of Soho’s old Endurance pub is a wonderfully atmospheric, buzzing space, where Pilsner Urquell drinkers rub shoulders with chop suey fans and the high-spec design includes gleaming beer tanks, open fires and chinoiserie-kitsch blue-and-white ceramic panels.
The upstairs dining room is calmer than the ground-floor bar, although both serve the same nostalgia-tinged one-page menu. Everyone has their personal favourites from the traditional line-up – especially the “fabulous” five-spice fried chicken, the venison puffs, the sweet-and-sour pork and (of course) the eponymous Cantonese roast duck on rice.
The kitchen is also happy to experiment, so expect to see a few more adventurous new-wave ideas among the steamed har-gau dumplings, kung-po chicken and Singapore noodles – we’re talking about curried soft-shell crab, smoked ‘mock duck’ bao buns, mooli puffs and jasmine tea-smoked ribs. Meanwhile, one hardcore fan pleads “bring back the chilli beef”!
In addition to tanks of lager and artisan beers, drinkers can also sip ale-based cocktails (anyone for an Irish Espresso with Oyster Stout?) – not forgetting a terrific list of G&Ts and a big selection of French-led wines.
There’s “fun for the whole family” here, with dim sum brunching at the weekends, a digital jukebox (aka ‘the Duckbox’) pumping out your favourite tunes and an events programme including everything from bingo nights to drag-queen quizzes. It’s pure old Soho with a modern edge.