If you’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in town, you’ll have noticed that everyone has been hanging out at Duddell’s. Sitting on top of the Shanghai Tang flagship on Duddell Street (of course!), it seems that every event recently has been held at Duddell’s (including TOPSHOP’s opening party) – proving that it really is the latest hotspot to hit Hong Kong!
Duddell’s is the brainchild of Alan Lo, Paulo Pong and Yenn Wong (the folks behind the likes of The Press Room Group, 22 Ships and 208) – and in a departure from their usual Western cuisine, showcases Cantonese fare from former T’ang Court chef Siu Hin Chi. Aside from the food, Duddell’s is probably best described as a mix of art gallery and dining room – an amazing and unique venue that brings together good food, great art and an awesome atmosphere for everyone to share in.
What stood out when I first arrived at Duddell’s was the space itself, designed by Ilse Crawford as a place for artists to mingle, grow and create. The dining room is classy but surprisingly homey, with muted green walls playing host to different paintings (which will change regularly) and dim lighting to create an intimate atmosphere. For those of you interested in hosting cosy gatherings in this home away from home, you can also opt for one of Duddell’s three private rooms.
With the calming serenity of the dining room downstairs, the buzzing upstairs of Duddell’s can only be said to be a complete contrast! The deep dark colours of the “Salon” bar area give off a sexy mysterious vibe perfect for easing you into a night of mixing and mingling, whilst there’s also a quieter Library Room in the corner for members only – great for business meetings or relaxed chill-outs.
However, the highlight has to be Duddell’s outdoor terrace – even though it was raining when we visited, there’s no doubt that the terrace here at Duddell’s will be the place to be seen. There’s comfortable cushy seating, whilst the whole space is surrounded by leafy plants that truly transform the area into a green paradise in the heart of this concrete city.
As for the food – we were treated to a huge selection of dishes at Duddell’s so instead of overwhelming you with a list of what we ate, here are a few highlights! The deep fried Bombay duck with spicy salt (note: Bombay duck is actually a fish, not duck!) was incredibly light, crunchy and moreish. Let’s just say my chopsticks kept revisiting this dish until there was no more left at the bottom of the bowl!
The prawns “two ways” (deep fried and sautéed) are a Duddell’s signature and I absolutely loved the crispy, deep-fried taro nest wrapped around a big succulent prawn in the middle. It reminded me of taro puffs, my favourite dim sum in the whole wide world – and if you haven’t ever tried those, get these prawns for a swankier version of them!
A couple more Duddell’s signatures landed, including crispy salted chicken and fried fresh lobster with scallions and shallots. These were pretty standard versions of Chinese classics; whilst the chicken could have done with a bit more salt-baked flavour, we wished the lobster had come atop a bed of noodles to soak up its delicious garlicky juices.
For those who love their veg, try the simple and classic sautéed asparagus, water chestnut and walnut. There are veggies galore to feast on (my pick being the crunchy water chestnuts) but the pleasant surprise of some candied walnuts was a winner – their sweet delicious flavour and brittle-like texture worked perfectly with the veggies!
The Cantonese aren’t usually known for their desserts, but I would definitely recommend Duddell’s sesame lotus seed balls – a chewy banana-filled treat! Another highlight was the caramel baked sago pudding, a sinfully rich dessert that is sure to delight if you are craving something creamy. If you have an adventurous spirit, give the avocado sago soup with chocolate a try; it does sound weird, but it’s most certainly something you won’t find just anywhere!
The one drawback for me was Duddell’s acoustics. We were sitting in a table of six, but I found it hard to hear even the person next to me due to the general noise from the dining room, plus the music and hubbub floating down from upstairs. This was definitely something that took away from my meal, so unless you enjoy super buzzy dinners, I’d probably recommend going in a smaller group (or the private rooms) just to make sure you don’t lose your voice!
Duddell’s is definitely where the pulse of the city is at right now. Aside from high-end Cantonese food, Duddell’s also serves all-day dim sum for your yum-cha cravings, plus a mean cocktails menu at the Salon too. Prices are not exactly wallet-friendly (with mains ranging from $200-400) and the portions aren’t sizeable, so expect to order a lot. That being said, with a space that’s seriously to-die-for and the hottest guest list in town, we just know that this place is going to be buzzing with people all day long for some time to come!
Duddell’s 3-4/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central
2525 9191 www.duddells.co