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Calling itself a Chinese gastrobar, Duckee takes up the gorgeous 7,000-square-foot space where Maximal Concepts’ sustainable Chinese restaurant John Anthony once stood. Thankfully, they’ve retained almost all the design elements and decor, beginning with the enamouring pink-hued descent into the warren of stylised eating and drinking spaces. The alcoves and arches, floral upholstery, vintage lighting and accents in brass and wicker give the space a whimsical-slash-tropical feel.
We didn’t get to try the cocktails owing to COVID regulations, but the bar is a focal point of Duckee. Served in traditional Chinese cups and quirky glasses (where can we get our hands on these adorable Chinese zodiac-themed shot glasses?), the mocktails and cocktails use key ingredients of Chinese cuisine. A Chinese wine flight offering six different tastings of baijiu is another unique drinking option.
We’ll be back to try the weekday happy hour from 4–8pm, with drinks starting from just $48. Or you can opt for the two-hour free-flow package ($288).
Bean curd and vegetable rolls ($80): we enjoyed these earthy rolls, served cold, along with a serving of vegetarian abalone ($128), not pictured. The veggie abalone, which has the look and taste of tofu, comes with a fab mustard sauce that has the pungency of wasabi.
Typhoon shelter salt-and-pepper squid with coconut meat ($88): what a genius idea, elevating a dish that’s found at just about every Chinese restaurant around town. We loved the use of coconut meat, which mimics the texture of the squid but adds a slight natural sweetness. Like several other dishes at Duckee, the chefs add plant-based elements to dishes that normally take a purely carnivorous approach.
Barbecued Peking duck ($230 for ½; 450 for whole): you can’t go to a restaurant called Duckee and not order the Peking duck! This is a fine example of crisp, laquered duck skin, though we wish the meat had been cut more thinly. We also tried the roast vegetarian duck made from seasoned pineapple and deep-fried dried bean curd, which was served inside traditional pancakes along with avocado and lots of fresh herbs – delightful.
Sichuan simmered sliced fish ($280): the key to this classic Sichuan dish is making sure the fish is just briefly poached so that it retains its silkiness, and Duckee succeeded in this. We can never get enough of that addictive chilli- and peppercorn-studded broth.
Yin-yang xiao long bao ($98): gimmicky? Perhaps. But we enjoyed both the traditional pork-based xiao long bao with its abundance of gingery soup and the red version, coloured with beetroot and filled with plant-based OmniPork – and honestly we couldn’t detect a flavour difference between the two.
Baked pudding with coconut ice cream ($68): this was a rather forgettable dessert after such a delicious meal. The coconut ice cream was nice, but there was no discernible flavour to the very creamy pudding besides a tinge of vanilla.
Duckee is a recommended Chinese all-rounder – whether you want affordably priced dim sum, Cantonese classics or Sichuan specialities (or all three). We’ll be back to this stunning space for sure.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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