Chef Fung Man-Ip
Two-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Duddell’s has another feather in its cap with the appointment of Chef Fung Man-Ip. Born and bred in the 852, Chef Fung began his culinary career back in 1979 at Golden Jade Seafood Restaurant in Lam Tim before moving on to celebrated Cantonese restaurants including Lei Garden, Dynasty at the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel and, most recently, glam Chinese darling Mott 32.
Chef Fung has fine-tuned the menu at Duddell’s, offering a traditionalist approach to the recipes and cooking techniques but with innovative flavour pairings and presentation. We were lucky enough to sample a selection of these revamped dishes, and they were uniformly exquisite.
Soups are the heart and soul of a Cantonese kitchen, and the chef’s double-boiled matsutake mushroom with bamboo pith and Chinese cabbage ($200/person) was intensely soothing, with a strong mushroom aroma and flavour punctuated by a distinct sweetness. The foundation of this soup is the chef’s supreme broth, simmered for 4–6 hours to build layers of flavour to heighten the umami taste.
A signature creation, the chef’s fresh local lobster with salted egg yolk and pumpkin ($850) was a lighter take on classic salted egg yolk dishes with a showstopping presentation (hello there, Sir Lobster). The deep-fried pumpkin added texture and sweetness.
The crispy Ibérico pork with balsamic vinegar ($230) is Chef Fung’s twist on sweet and sour pork, that iconic Cantonese dish. Without a doubt the best version we’ve had, this dish was much more subtle and fragrant than its normally sickly sweet and gloopy counterparts around town. Using lean pork belly, the meat was crackingly crisp on the outside – no easy feat, considering it was cloaked in a moreish sweet-tart balsamic-based sauce – yet the interior remained tender. We also enjoyed the fresh pineapple served alongside.
Duddell’s regulars will be pleased to hear that the restaurant’s beloved crispy salted chicken ($250 for ½ bird; $500 for whole bird) has stayed put. This dish requires a precise cooking technique, ensuring that hot oil is continuously ladled over the chook to achieve a perfectly crisp, golden, paper-thin skin. Crispy chicken skin, juicy, flavourful chicken meat – it doesn’t get much better than that.
On a much lighter note, the sautéed lily bulb with asparagus, marmoreal mushroom and black truffle ($200) was all about the quality of the produce and a lovely way to break up the rich flavours of the previous courses. We liked how the black truffle was noticeable but not pronounced, as oftentimes its aroma and flavour can overpower the other ingredients.
One of our favourite dishes was the simplest, fried rice with crispy Ibérico pork and preserved vegetables ($280). This was expertly prepared, with every grain of jasmine rice separate from the next. The pickled mustard greens came courtesy of the chef’s own recipe, passed on to him by his mentor way back when.
Yes, the dishes are on the high side of pricey, but Duddell’s is a special occasion sort of place. In addition to the top-class menu, the restaurant’s claim to fame is to showcase exhibitions curated by the who’s who of the art world. There’s also a salon-style cocktail lounge looking out onto a spacious garden terrace for sipping pretty, as well as private dining rooms, a showroom for art and cultural talks and a members-only lounge. An extra-special place indeed.
3–4/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, 2525 9191
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.