London isn't exactly short of Cantonese restaurants, and to be brutally honest, good ones are few and far between. Situated in the South West London foodie oasis that is Pop Brixton, Duck Duck Goose is a new exciting alternative. Boring, safe and complacent dishes are non-existent here with the restaurant boasting of, and delivering on a truly modern Cantonese dining experience. I went down to see how they do it.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Located on the ground floor of Pop Brixton, Duck Duck Goose is surrounded by a fantastic array of eateries and street food vendors. Upon arrival, you are welcomed by a simplistic but stylish layout. Pastel pink walls add warmth and the general vibe is one of informality. To say canteen would undermine and detract from the food but it's a very casual setting, ideal for a post work catch-up. Yes, it is small but the space is utilised well with room for both couples and larger groups. The decor is very kitsch and reminded me of a Wes Anderson film, which in my opinion, is no bad thing.
The Food and Drink
The one thing I was recommended before my visit was the Prawn Toast Revisited (£6), and this is a must try. If you are thinking of that soggy, greasy takeaway toast then you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. I can safely say it was the best and most interesting Prawn Toast I have ever tasted. The bread was extremely succulent, with the gentle sprinkling of bonito flakes and a trickle of mayonnaise complimenting the texture and flavours perfectly.
It was a tough day at the office for both my friend and I so we dived straight in and plumped for the braised ox tongue, pork belly and bone marrow with chanterelles mushrooms and chilli sauce (£15). The waiter informed us that this was a new dish, and for me it's well worth the price tag. Personally, I have no problem with offal and I would even go out on a limb and say the ox tongue could win over those who feel a little squeamish about it. Left to simmer at a low heat for a painstakingly long time, the ox tongue isn't tough or chewy, but instead surprisingly juicy and tender (you can cut it with a spoon). But the main event was from the BBQ. We opted for the Selection (£18), which was a meaty feast of Pork Belly and Duck. The slices of pork belly are cooked with Chinese five spice and have a gorgeous crackling on them. The duck is coated in a glazed golden brown crispy skin. Even for two carnivores this platter was a challenge. Both meats were cooked to perfection and avoided the classic pork and duck pitfalls of being either too fatty or chewy. The dish was accompanied by a spicy mustard, a lovely homemade plum sauce and a tray of spicy pickles, all three helping to lift the dish and cut through the meat.
After that slightly draining but enjoyable main, we needed a dessert, we were recommended the signature dessert, Cha Chaan Teng Peanut Butter French Toast with Caramel and Soy Ice Cream (£6). Definitely one for those with a sweet tooth, it was an extravagant ending to an already richly indulgent meal, the toast oozed with peanut butter and melted in the mouth. Drinks wise, there's a small but varied range of wines and it was good to see two pale ales from the nearby Brixton brewery on the menu as well as the Cantonese stalwart, Tsingtao (£3.75).
Duck Duck Goose is a breath of fresh air in terms of what's available on the market currently. Offering a modern menu that is bold and well executed, the attention to detail is plain to see. One draw back is the lack of vegetarian options, this is a restaurant for real meat lovers. But that aside, in terms of value for money, the portions are plentiful and everything we had was shareable between two. Overall, I thought it was a charming restaurant that for what it lacks in size, makes up for in truly delicious and interesting food, I'll be back to try the rest of the dishes for sure.