First the Middle Eastern-inspired Babylon came to the rooftop of Westfield Sydney, now contemporary Cantonese restaurant Duck & Rice has landed. Both have taken over the previously unoccupied and large-scale space on level seven of the CBD shopping centre. This newbie marries traditional Chinese design – including iron lanterns and timber moon gates – with moody European art-deco styling.
Head chef Kago Fong has created a menu to showcase Australia’s fresh and seasonal produce. “If you go to a traditional Chinese restaurant and order sweet-and-sour pork, you don’t know where the pork comes from. In Asian cooking it’s all about flavour; the produce isn’t important,” Fong says. “With Western cooking, [people] always [talk about] the origins of the food; I really want to represent Australian ingredients and that’s what I’ve done with this menu.”
The restaurant name gives an indication of the menu’s main star: Cantonese-style roast duck. It can be had in half or whole portions with house-made plum sauce, or pancake-style.
Fong says cooking the duck is a four-day process that starts with simmering the bird in a pot of water seasoned with spices, instead of dry-stuffing it before roasting. “The duck meat is like a sponge; when it’s in the water it can absorb all the flavour, and after that we roast it,” he explains. “It means the meat stays juicy with flavour from the water.”
There’s also steamed and fried dim sum, such as siu mai with pork, crab and fish roe, and duck and mushroom dumplings. Classic Chinese dishes have also been reinterpreted, so there’s strawberry sweet-and-sour king prawns and yuzu duck san choi bau.
Over at the bar, where a smaller à la carte menu is available for more casual dining, bar manager Luke Nicola (ex-Ete, Mr Wong, Mercado) has developed a drinks list that uses Chinese flavours. An Old Fashioned comes with black-sesame rum; the Clover Club has Szechuan-flavoured gin. You can also get flights of absinthe or the pungent Chinese white spirit, baijiu. There’s a well-considered range of non-alcoholic options too, including house-made sodas such as chrysanthemum or lychee and elderflower. A mocktail called Salt v Citrus features pink grapefruit, citrus, agave, salt and soda.
This is the third Sydney venue by Brisbane-based Mantle Group Hospitality, which is also behind Babylon and the James Squire microbrewery The Squire’s Landing in The Rocks.
Duck & Rice
Level 7, Westfield Sydney, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney
(02) 9023 9991
Mon to Sun 11am–12am
The main entrance is via the express escalator from Pitt Street Mall, or inside Westfield Sydney. Entry from 10pm to 12am is via the lift from Castlereagh Street.