Thursday, November 16, 2017

Forbidden Duck 鴨大哥 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

London-born, Canada-raised “Demon chefAlvin Leung is reflexing his creative muscles again. After launching Plato 86, a Spanish tapas bar at Brim 28 not too long ago, he's back at it with another new concept - Forbidden Duck (鴨大哥), a Cantonese restaurant that specializes in the famous Peking duck.

A giant duck with a delightful smile welcomes diners with its wings wide open at the front of the restaurant on the tenth floor of Times Square.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from Forbidden Duck which has just soft-opened for 4 days. Would there be molecular twist to some of the classic Cantonese dim sums? I was interested to find out more.

I took a quick peek at the open kitchen through the glass windows and saw nothing but marinated ducks hanging next to the oven.

There were not a lot of choices in the lunch menu. Just under 20 different dim sums to choose from and interestingly, a special section dedicated to rice rolls. Could chef Alvin be a big fan of rice roll himself?

I'm all set for some duck themed dim sum.....

Sautéed rice rolls with shredded duck meat and XO sauce (XO醬炒鴨絲腸粉) ($48) - I was expecting some sort of contemporary twist here. Perhaps some molecular cheung fun to start the meal?

Well, I'm afraid I got a little too carried away there. That's nothing more than a typical sautéed rice rolls with XO sauce except that they have added thin slices of duck meat to match their theme. Decent but nothing to really write home about.

Pan-fried dumplings with black truffle and duck meat (香煎黑松露火鴨餃) ($42) - I didn't remember when Cantonese restaurants started adding black truffles to their dim sums but they seemed to have over-done it in recent years by adding black truffles to pretty much everything. I didn't enjoy this one all that much. This would have passed if I was getting it from a street vendor but definitely not from an upscale restaurant. 

Peking duck (北京烤鴨) (Half duck $228) - This was what we came for, their bread-and-butter signature dish. There are two types of Peking duck served here:- the typical roasted Peking duck and one that was done using the "slow-roasted" method. The slow-roasted one was the one that I really wanted to try but unfortunately, it's not available at lunch. So, we had to settle for the former.

Pancake and the usual condiments of cucumber, fresh onion and melon.

They had the crispy skin and duck meat served separately which was particularly nice as we got to mix and match based on our own preference. The duck was pretty good, the skin especially tender and crisp, the meat pleasant and juicy. I would rate it in the same ball park with its competition like Empire City Roasted Duck (大都烤鴨) and perhaps a shade higher than places like M&C Duck.

Lettuce wrap with sautéed duck meat French-style (法式炒鴨崧) (Supplement $70) - We went with the additional dish of lettuce wrap. Between four styles of diced duck meat, we picked the French style although we had trouble telling the difference between this and the "black pepper style". At first we thought they messed up our order by serving us one with black pepper (even our server thought that was the case) but it was later confirmed that they got it right.

For $70 more, it's not a bad addition at all. On top of the diced duck meat were carrots, celery, onion as well as small cubes of foie gras and black truffle to make it French (I suppose).

Fried egg noodle with shredded pork (肉絲炒脆麵) ($108) - After four dishes centered around duck, we thought we should finish up the meal with a dish without our beloved poultry.

I heard the lady next to us complaining to the restaurant manager about her fried egg noodle being way too crunchy but hey, that's how I wanted it done! I thought this was actually pretty nice. The sauce with shredded pork and bean sprout was served on the side so we could add as much (or little) as we liked.

I was really looking forward to chef Alvin's contemporary take on some of our classic Cantonese dim sums but I came up empty. At the end, The Forbidden Duck is nothing more than a typical Cantonese restaurant with a slightly above-average Peking duck.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 1001B, 10/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2882-8600

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