Kaisern Ching wants to change the perception of Chinese roast duck. His idea is Holy Duck, a casual, fusion-driven roast-duck diner that's just opened on Chippendale's ever-expanding restaurant strip, Kensington Street.
When I visited a lot of the duck restaurants in Chinatown, or in many parts of the world, they always presented themselves in a pretty traditional and uninviting way,” says Ching, who also owns Chefs Gallery. “I'm a fan of traditional Chinese barbeque so I thought if steaks and western grill can be presented in a nicer context why can't Chinese grill?”
He means that in two ways. First, the vibe here is far from the plain white walls and laminated menus of Chinatown. Ching has worked with Giant Design on a fit-out that reflects both the origins of the building and fusion-led concept. The walls are bare bricks and the furniture minimal. The logo is enormous, lit up by bare light bulbs and accompanied by a giant duck mural. “The duck had to be the hero, how many Chinatown restaurants do you know with a logo?” says Ching.
The experimental recipes have been developed with Cyrus So, a Hong Kongese chef who’s recently been working in executive positions in Chinese chains. The most traditional thing, at least in appearance, is the roast duck. It’s prepared Peking style and served with pancakes, but that’s where the tradition ends. There are pickles instead of fresh onion and cucumber, and rather than hoisin there’s orange hoisin, spring-onion pesto and a green-apple-and-sake sauce. The main burger brings a few of those things (the roast duck, orange hoisin as well as spring onion, cucumber and lettuce) between two doughy, semi-brioche-style buns.
It’s not all duck though. The rest of the menu has some rather peculiar takes on other Chinese roasting traditions. Pork jowl is marinated in a mix of salted plums, sesame paste, hoisin and ground beans, then roasted and blowtorched to form a strangely granular and sweet crust. It’s then served over rice with pickles or sandwiched in a burger with apple chutney and coriander relish. Popcorn chicken is fried and slung into a burger with slaw and a sriracha-and-lemon mayo.
“The first menu is our experiment. We will be seasonally changing it. There are so many combinations we can put together. This is just the start,” says Ching.