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Located on the top floors of the Shanghai Tang Mansion, the brand's flagship store in Hong Kong, Duddell's has both style and substance. The bi-level space designed by British designer Ilse Crawford consists of marble floors, beautiful muted mustard, jade and gold accents, carried through from the furniture to the to tableware (unsurprisingly, Duddell’s won Best Interior Design in the 2014 Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants awards). It houses not only a Chinese restaurant and small art gallery on the lower level, but also a cocktail bar, salon and gem of a terrace on the top floor. The restaurant offers private dining rooms, and an active art programme ensures that a rotating and permanent collection are displayed throughout.
Already known for his expertise in classic Cantonese, award-winning chef Siu Hin-chi has pushed the boundaries a little more since taking the helm at Duddell's. The menus move seamlessly between well-loved classics and new creations - for instance, a dim sum menu (offered at lunch time) that features both steamed barbecued pork buns and mushroom dumplings with black truffle. On the a la carte menu, highlights include the fried fresh lobster with scallion and shallots, a dish done by almost all Chinese restaurants, but perfected by few. The version here has a beautiful golden sear and lovely nuggets of meat, with an enticing fragrance of scallions brought on by excellent breath of the wok, making it perhaps the city's best rendition of the dish. The crispy salted chicken has light, incredibly crisp, wafer-like skin, coupled with the tender, juicy meat that doesn't have a dry, stringy spot in sight. A simple dish of sautéed water chestnuts with asparagus and walnuts is faultless in texture, its only hiccup perhaps being some disproportionately large clusters of candied walnut. Desserts are often new twists on classic Asian ingredients, such as the caramel baked sago pudding with lotus seed paste, which makes for unctuous, not-too-sweet spoonfuls that are especially satisfying in winter.
Although a little on the pricey side, the relatively diverse collection of wines, both in styles and geography, is commendable. For those particularly keen on Chateau Mouton Rothschild, there is a section dedicated to the winery, known for its artist-drawn labels. There is also a range of white and yellow Chinese liquors, as well as a select list of rare and fine Chinese teas.
Service is attentive and knowledgeable, and staff are very much at ease with the menu and are able to suggest dishes that suit certain tastes or needs, but can be a little slow when the restaurant is busy. When premium teas are ordered, the service and ceremony are professional, with leaves and accoutrements appropriately processed.
A meal for two with a glass of wine or premium tea costs around HK$900 per head. Given the setting, Central location and high quality of food and service, the cost is justifiable.