As part of a month-long residency at Mortimer House, chef Oli Brown has brought duck duck goose back to London.
Originally operating from a shipping container at Pop Brixton, duck duck goose served as a modern Cantonese restaurant by British-born Oli Brown, inspired by the roast meat shops he visited while working and living in Hong Kong. As a result, it’s unsurprising that Cantonese barbecue became the central focus of duck duck goose, displaying roasted, glazed meats demanding to be ordered. Two years later, however, the restaurant closed its doors, promising to eventually relocate. Following this month-long residency as part of Mortimer House’s Guest Chef Series, the chef plans to open another restaurant (the exact location and date is still yet to be confirmed at the time of writing), with the menu served over the next few weeks set to form the backbone of the menu at duck duck goose 2.0.
By reservation only, this leg of the Guest Chef Series will see Oli Brown taking over the fifth-floor Living Room & Den of the hospitality-driven private members’ club on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout July. Here, the dining area has space for 24 covers, seated across four communal tables and service is elegant but relaxed in a manner fitting of the venue. As for the food, the menu draws inspiration from Chinese and European traditions, with particular emphasis on high-quality produce. Meat is sourced from HG Walter, vegetables from Natoora, traditional Chinese ingredients from See Woo.
Dinner began with a riff on a whisky sour from the members’ bar, followed by spring rolls (£3 each) packed with shredded duck meat remarkably paired with tart pickled rhubarb. In addition, a blizzard of foie gras (frozen and grated) lent gratifying richness to the dish. Lamb skewers (£3 each), on the other hand, featured a nod to northern China, soft, lightly charred and amplified with cumin. Another hit.
A classic from the original site, duck duck goose’s prawn toast (£6.50/£12), inspired by Hong Kong restaurant Ho Lee Fook, remains one of the best dishes currently available in London. An elevated version of the Anglicised takeaway favourite, white bread sandwiches a bulging heap of prawn mousse so succulent it almost threatens to saturate the bread; generously embellished with a symphony of sesame seeds, tonkatsu sauce, kewpie mayonnaise and a torrent of bonito flakes. An explosion of harmonious flavours. Order the large portion and refuse to share.
To follow, a trio of roasted meats (£20) showcased another speciality of the kitchen. Slivers of duck breast were served pink, cushioned with delicious fat; pork belly featured well-rendered fat, cloaked with salty, crunchy rind; and soy-poached chicken’s outstanding overall cooking compensated for the otherwise flaccid skin – delightful with the accompanying sauce rife with spring onion, garlic and ginger.
The menu’s sole dessert is inspired by the Cha Chaan Teng cafés that began to open in Hong Kong after the Second World War. Here, French toast (£6.50) is an insalubrious doorstop of sweet, stodgy palatability; teamed with a caramel and soy ice cream boasting tremendous flavour balance. Dinner’s final glimmer of Oli Brown’s extraordinary cooking. Chinese comfort food at its absolute finest.
Further information on Oli Brown’s residency at Mortimer House can be found here.