Duck & Rice
Level 7, Westfield Pitt St, Sydney
Mon – Sun 11am to 12am
(02) 9023 9991
Duck & Rice is the new Cantonese-inspired restaurant that is sizzling up the streets of Sydney from Westfield’s rooftop terrace.
Opening its doors on June 26th this year, Duck & Rice takes up over a third of the new seventh level in Sydney Westfield, adding to the craze of new restaurants, and is a neighbour to Babylon – a Mantle Group Hospitality masterpiece.
Duck & Rice is a fusion of two worlds, but does not stop there, in our opinion. The flavours, textures and traditions are there, but maybe Duck & Rice is too experimental for the region it gets its inspiration from. Described loosely as a premium Asian inspired restaurant with Cantonese as its staple, Duck & Rice also sees a twist of new-world fusion.
The venue is decorated with a contemporary art feel with embellishments of gold toned wallpaper, low-hanging pendulum lighting, charismatic mirrors, straw seats and a central bar dividing the indoor seating into two precincts. There is a more casual approach outside, with hanging lanterns encasing marble lined tables. There’s no doubt that stepping outside provides a more laid back feeling, preferable for after-work drinks and a quick bite. However, the winner of the restaurants features are the skyscaper views – perfect for its staggering 500 person capacity.
Back inside the kitchen, led by head chef Kago Fong, the menu is filled with Cantonese favourites divided accordingly. Our first pick was the sashimi kingfish ($25) that was adorned in a flavourful pickled daikon and mala sauce. Pairing the dish with a Temple of Tranquillity (jasmine vodka, chartreuse, lychee and citrus) cocktail ($18) sees two traditional flavours combined gracefully. For a more full-bodied starter, the Drunken Pork Knuckle ($18) dressed in sesame, jellyfish and garlic vinaigrette would be ideal for guests who enjoy a combination of land meets sea.
Of course, any dim sum lover would know that if an opportunity calls for dim sum, one never passes it up. And we are thankful we didn’t. Following our entrée, we choose the assorted steamed ($32) and fried ($29) dim sum basket. Biased towards the classic, we preferred the steamed which were rolled and steamed with an elegant combination of ingredients. On the other hand, quite literally, the fried dim sum basket was warm and joyous to bite into. Both were selected by the chef and dressed with a variety of side sauces to test, making the perfect pre-main meal.
To end the main meal adventure, we were celebrated with the renowned Cantonese Style Roast Duck ($45/$88) with a light po lam sauce, half of which was paired with our top pick, the Scallop, Snow Egg & Chinese Kale Fried Rice ($29) and a side of braised Asian vegetables, The Monk ($24), which encased a variety of vegetable favourites in an almost giant dumpling enclosure. Both invigorated the light and fluffy textures of the fried rice, however the roast duck wasn’t as tasteful as we would have imagined. The meal took four days to prepare, and although we seemed to have devoured it in a fraction of the time of that time, it unfortunately left us underwhelmed.
Finally, the climax of any dining experience, the dessert, was welcomed with two very charismatic dishes. First, a special of the evening was the Matcha Sponge Cake, which consisted of a matcha base cake with soft pandan cream furnishing and was finished with a dusting of sherbet. Some pieces were light and fluffy, others were more coarse. The matcha meets sherbet combination was invigorating but not a personal favourite. Our top pick for dessert was the Fresh Fruit, Sago & Coconut, Chia Seed ($15) dish. The plate was brimming with mango, strawberry, blueberry, kiwi and dragon fruit, which provided a canvas for the finishing touch: a dressing of sago, coconut and chia seed, which flooded the dish to create a creamy finish. When accompanied together, the dish represented a cosmic creation of colour.
Throughout my culinary journey, I continuously had to remind myself that the characteristics of Duck & Rice was in fact the overall aim: modern Cantonese cuisine supported by provincial Chinese influences.
Upon first impression, this urban oasis represents a period in Hong Kong in the midst of the 1930’s. Although this period used a combination of traditional Chinese and art deco which is highly evident in the furnishings, food and the drinks, certain aspects weren’t as strong as others. Leaving, I felt a bit lost in translation with a side of confusion, mainly because of this engagement of contemporary and classic. For some, unfortunately, this pre-meditated relationship won’t be an overall joyful union. But as always, it is best to taste and trial it out for yourself before you tie the knot.