Of all the places you would expect to find a Cantonese restaurant, an 18th-century church near London Bridge is surely among the last. And yet, here it is: Duddell’s. The restaurant, part of the group behind Michelin-starred Duddell’s Hong Kong, specialises in dim sum and Cantonese cuisine. The interiors at the Grade II-listed St Thomas Church have been converted into a bright two-level dining room, decorated with a palette of emerald green, white and gold, with some of the more unique features, like a dark wood altar, a reminder of the heritage of the building.
While the setting is unconventional, the food definitely isn’t. The restaurant keeps it mostly authentic with a menu of traditional Cantonese dishes, albeit prepared with a mix of Chinese and western ingredients by Malaysian chef Daren Liew (formerly of Hakkasan).
Dim Sum Symphony (£19) showcases the restaurant’s style. Two bamboo steamers arrive at our table, protecting the heat and fragrance of the dumplings, which are stuffed with prawn, king crab and scallops. We pair the tasty, sticky bites with Jasmine Pearls tea (£9). In the evening, this is the only choice of dim sum available, but at lunchtime there is a separate menu of steamed, baked or fried dumplings and cheung fun.
The Peking duck (£72, whole; £45, half), which takes more than 48 hours to prepare, is also a Duddell’s speciality. The roasted bird’s skin is caramelised with sugar and then skilfully carved at the table. The crunchy meat is juicy and delicious on its own, but even better when wrapped in thin pancakes with thinly sliced cucumber, spring onion and pomelo dressing.
As you eat the pancakes, the duck meat is taken back to the kitchen to be cooked again (with truffle sauce, black pepper Martell or ginger and spring onion) and served later as a second course. The crispy skin is considered a delicacy and the best part of Peking duck, so it’s not uncommon for the rest of the meat to be served again in a new dish. We choose to have the duck glazed in truffle sauce, as recommended by the restaurant’s manager (and now me), with a side of pumpkin and shiitake mushroom fried rice (£9).
We also try a truffle-roasted black cod (£38) with lily bulb, a nutty Chinese vegetable, and Nameko mushroom. When perfectly cooked, as here, the black cod melts in your mouth, leaving an intense, buttery flavour.
Were we to order a second portion of rice, we could easily share the meal between three. So, we skip dessert, but I make a mental note to try the smoked pecan tart with cocoa nib ice-cream and smoked pecan brittle (£9) on the next visit.
Giulia Mulè is a food and travel writer based in London who is passionate about sharing food photography on her Instagram feed (@mondomulia) and blog Mondomulia (mondomulia.com). Originally from Rome, Mulè has spent over a decade living in London and travelling the world. In her spare time, she organises brunch meet-ups with @IGBrunchClub and fundraising events with @CreatingForGood – a collective of Instagrammers who share their creative skills to raise money for selected charities.