Good quality Chinese food (not the take away variety), dog-friendly, vegetarian- friendly and in Soho? The Duck and Rice provides all of the above at an affordable price.
The restaurant encouraged us to bring along Reggie the Toy Poodle who was greeted with as much gusto as ourselves. The Duck and Rice is a place that clearly welcomes dogs, but also encourages their presence with treats and enthusiastic hospitality. A casual dining experience, in an aesthetically exquisite venue; complete with blue willow Chinese porcelain tiles on the walls, a spiral staircase and speakeasy style furniture.
Vegetarian diners, in restaurants across the country, are often disappointed by the lack of meat-free diversity on many restaurants menus. However, The Duck and Rice offers an exciting selection of vegetarian options, to a level of excellence that could make even the most headstrong meat-eaters challenge their identity. When ourGoji Berry and Spinach dumplings and Sichuan Vegetable dumplings arrived, it was obvious which was which; asthe beautiful shade of spinach green, that the dumpling dough of one plate presented, told us all we needed to know. Both dishes; trendy takes on Chinese classics, brought a warm reminder that without the overpowering presence of meat on a plate, flavours and textures can very much rise to the forefront and
Our main course dishes were black pepper mock chicken and sweet and sour mock duck. The first of which was one of the best vegetarian takes on chicken I’ve experienced in a long time. Quorn radicalised vegetarian food culture in the 1980s, making a close-enough chicken replica allowing vegetarians to indulge in ‘chicken’ nuggets and ‘chicken’ pies. When Seiten, made from wheat gluten, and Tempah made from Soy were found to make the best veggie chicken yet and S eitan restaurants became vogue, people began turning to an animal free lifestyle at an incredible rate.
The Duck and Rice definitely caught onto this concept, making a ‘chicken’ above anything I have ever tried. Made from primarily Soya and egg, all of their mock meat is a close equivalent to Tempah. It is common for vegetarians to be an after-thought when it comes to cuisine; in a society that is still getting to grips with the concept of a meat-free lifestyle, however, The Duck and Rice created this dish with superior levels of care. The mock duck was suspiciously realistic and its pairing with sweet and sour sauce, delightfully recreated a classic Chinese dish.
Reggie meanwhile, enjoyed his time as much as us, finding himself a doggy companion in the corner. Quietly and aggressively staring each other down, running in the air towards one another against the great human force holding them back; replicating the action of a toddler walking in the opposite direction of some gale-force winds, or a seagull trying to fly against a light sea breeze. Whilst amusement crept across the faces of all involved and with us getting ever- so-slightly more tipsy as our flutes of prosecco grew emptier, dessert arrived on the table. The Chocolate cake and sticky toffee pudding were as similar to each other as two desserts can be, but both finished off the meal delightfully and left a sweet note about the evening on the tips of both of our tongues.
Opening times: Monday-Friday,
12pm-11pm, Sundays 12pm-10pm.
90 Berwick St, Soho, London
T: 020 3327 7888