One to try: Duck & Waffle Hong Kong
16 Sep 2019
It’s not exactly news that Hong Kong’s dining scene is notoriously fickle. It seems there’s nothing the city’s eaters covet more than being the first in at the hottest new restaurant in town - only for it to become old news when the next big thing opens.
If Hong Kong diners get excited about new restaurants, they seem to get exponentially more excited when the new venue has an international brand name or star chef attached to it. And so we find ourselves at Duck & Waffle, which has just opened in that waterfront bastion of international brand names, ifc mall.
Acclaimed London restaurant Duck & Waffle has opened in ifc mall.
What’s the story: The sky-high London original has made a name for itself with its playful take on modern British cuisine, most notably its eponymous signature dish, as well as its prime location in the heart of the city and round-the-clock hours. While the new Hong Kong site, its first outside of London, doesn’t quite scale the same vertical heights as its British counterpart, no doubt the aforementioned international factor has ensured it’s already one of the hottest seats in town, with the wait times and queues to prove it.
Duck & Waffle Hong Kong echoes the design of the London original.
The vibe: Dimly lit, busy and buzzy - Duck & Waffle is certainly leaning into its status as a place to see and be seen. The 120-seat dining room, located in the space formerly occupied by reliable all-day fave Open Kitchen, is spacious and modestly elegant, with generously sized tables and stand-alone banquettes dotted throughout. A fire engine-red open kitchen borders the back of the space, adding a layer of theatre to the experience.
Duck & Waffle Hong Kong's executive chef Daniel Barbossa worked his way up the ranks at the London original.
At the pass: Executive chef Daniel Barbossa, a Portugal native who cut his teeth at London’s original Duck & Waffle, has made the move to Hong Kong to oversee operations here. He’s sticking to the menu of the original’s tried and true favourites, and adding the odd local and seasonal touch to some dishes as well.
On the menu: For starters, we tried the deliciously ugly and housemade ‘nduja and gruyere bread (HK$70), and a well-executed beef tartare (HK$150) which was lifted by pickled red onion and Marmite-cured egg yolk. The fresh Irish crab (HK$160) with puff nori, oyster mayo and sea vegetables was another standout, a clever combination of textures and flavours that worked in harmony. The raw yellowfin tuna (HK$135), however, served on a literal brick of salt and topped with pickled watermelon, black olive, English mustard and basil, was too salty.
The fresh Irish crab was a standout starter.
Also a little disappointing was the spiced ox cheek donut ($135). A signature Duck & Waffle dish, the impressive looking orb didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of its potential flavour profile, with the meat being a little bland and the overall mouthfeel seeming to rely too much on the rather bready donut. However, that the eponymous duck and waffle (HK$230), topped with fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup, was very good, with the confit leg of duck cooked to perfection and the buttermilk waffle striking the right balance of fluffy and chewy.
The eponymous duck and waffle impressed.
For dessert, we sampled the baked alaska (HK$80) and the miso custard tart (HK$80). The latter was an interesting attempt to ‘localise’ a classic English pudding but was again too salty, while the baked alaska was far better balanced, a textural delight with vanilla ice cream encased in a torched, gooey meringue, and served with strawberries and almond brittle.
What else: While the London outpost is famously open 24/7, the team here have, perhaps astutely, figured that ifc mall isn’t exactly the ideal location to open around the clock. They are, however, open from 8am (so you can get your fix of duck and waffle for breakfast because why not, honestly), and until 1am on Friday and Saturday. There’s also a takeaway counter at the front for grab-and-go lunches.
PR speak: “Its first destination outside of London, the critically acclaimed restaurant is set to become an iconic landmark in the city’s dining scene.”
WOM Guide was a guest of Duck & Waffle.
Duck & Waffle Hong Kong, Shop 1081, Podium Level 1, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, +852 2267 6338; duckandwaffle.com.hk.