The kitchen will be headed up by Daren Liew, who brings 20 years of experience of cooking Cantonese food, having worked in the Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons Hotels in Asia, before taking on the role of development chef at Good Earth Hong Kong, and finally joining the Hakkasan group.
How will the London iteration replicate the success of its Hong Kong counterpart, and will there be any key differences between the two restaurants? BigHospitality spoke to Liew ahead of the restaurant’s opening date to find out more.
What will the format of the menu be like at the London restaurant?
Our menu format is a la carte, but we will be introducing a tasting menu in the months to come - it’s a great way to get a great edit of the dishes. We also have a brilliant feasting menu which showcases all that makes Cantonese food special. It’s designed to be taken in the private dining rooms found on the mezzanine.
Are there any standout dishes on the menu? Or any that are exclusive to the London site?
I love our roast duck - it’s something that takes years to get right. It’s served with eight condiments so guests can play up their own combination of texture and taste. Duck aside, we are best known for our dim sum. We will be serving some from the Hong Kong menu such as Iberico char siu bun, Iberico charsiu cheung fun and chicken and glutinous rice in lotus wrap, while the team here have come together to workshop other combinations such as black pepper duck pumpkin dumpling and truffle spring rolls .
Will you have to make any sacrifices with regards to authenticity and produce sourcing?
The menu at Duddell’s in London is designed to be an authentic representation of Chinese cooking. That said, we are fortunate here in London to have access to amazing produce from the UK and the rest of Europe, such as Silver Hill duck from Ireland, Welsh lamb and Berkshire pork. We are using Parma ham instead of Chinese pork within our superior stock, which is a pillar of our menu.
Were there any ingredients you struggled to source in the UK?
We’re planning to use sea cucumber on our London menu in the future, but we can’t just yet as we want to ensure we can source great ones to begin with, and ensure a steady and sustainable supply. We have abalone on our London menu, too – it’s a prized ingredient by the Cantonese and rightly so. In London, we are serving abalone rice with shimeji mushroom and asparagus, but we had to source it from the coast of Chile.
Will the kitchen team include any chefs from the original Duddell’s?
Our London team are fresh faced. We recruited from all over the UK, then travelled to Hong Kong as a team for a six week training program. Once you see Duddell’s in Hong Kong, you see that it is so much more than a restaurant. We wanted to ensure everyone got that. The majority of the London team are either Chinese or have Chinese roots. Not only did we recruit for skill, we also recruited for passion and cultural fit. We have a dedicated team of five dim sum chefs here in London that have over 200 years of experience between them.
Art is an important part of the restaurant in Hong Kong- why is that, and will it be translated to the London site as well?
The vision of our founders was to fuse the arts, food and drink into a cultured social experience. In Hong Kong we have a vibrant art programme consisting of lectures, talks, screenings and exhibitions of the artwork in the region. We will be introducing a similar programme in 2018 for Duddell’s London and hope to also include the same kinds of curated art exhibitions, art talks, performances and screenings- but first we want to start by bringing our cuisine to the London community.
London already has a lot of good Cantonese food and Chinese food – what will set Duddell's apart?
Diners in London are astute and discerning, they’re already spoilt for choice for great Cantonese restaurant in London, they know what’s good. We’ve come to London bringing something that’s both new and authentic, combining dining with our cultural program. That is what will make us unique.