When Duddell’s opened in the spring of 2013, it seemed to unleash a wave of contemporary Chinese restaurant openings, where classic regional flavours were celebrated in environments that diverged from the stereotypical Eastern aesthetic. As the inaugural joint project between restaurateur couple Yenn Wong and Alan Lo, plus Lo’s business partner, Paulo Pong, Duddell’s was unlike anything we had seen before in Hong Kong. A restaurant that also doubles as an art gallery? Could this trio really put their money where their mouths were?
Fast-forward to July 2014, as the restaurant celebrated its second anniversary with a high-octane shindig that, in classic Duddell’s fashion, paid homage to traditional Chinese arts and crafts as well as its culinary specialities—the entrepreneurs, surrounded by scores of their closest friends, fans and supporters, toasted to the night before digging into lucky peach-shaped buns (symbols of longevity) and settling down into a game of mahjong.
There has been plenty to celebrate. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a wonderful evolution of this multifaceted venue. It’s not only the design that captures our attention, though the set-up of the split-level space, brought to life within the belly of Duddell Street’s Shanghai Tang maison by the inimitable Ilse Crawford, is unquestionably beautiful—it’s like dining in a seasoned art collector’s home.
In the upstairs lounge, you can enjoy a curated selection of fine dim sum and thrillingly crafted cocktails with esoteric names. In the main dining room, the food by executive chef Siu Hin-chi reflects a confident roster of solid Cantonese classics such as roasted meats, flash-cooked seafood, wonderfully nourishing double-boiled soups and complex assemblies of seasonal vegetables—consistently delectable and presented as artfully as the masterpieces above diners’ heads.
Duddell’s other unique sales proposition has been its stellar line-up of arts programmes, talks and exhibitions by established and emerging artists; a rotating selection of thought-provoking art pieces hang on walls and perch in corners, giving diners as much to talk about as the plates on their tables. It’s all tastefully done, the mood of the venue often toeing the line between zeitgeisty art gallery and fine-dining restaurant.
Wong, Lo and Pong certainly took a gamble when they opened the doors at Duddell’s. However, with Hong Kong rising as an emerging arts hub and with the world looking once more towards the culinary clout of Asia, we couldn’t imagine their bet paying off any better than it has today.
Duddell’s, Level 3 & 4, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central; +852 2525 9191