The best roast duck in the UK according to The Financial Times. Exaggeration or a real gem? I loosen my belt to find out.
Roast duck is one of the most well-known Chinese dishes in Britain, but the version most of us are familiar with is a crude bastardisation. The roast duck available from most Chinese high street takeaways is dry, flavourless and bears only a passing resemblance to the original. The Four Seasons mini-chain of restaurants is reputed to serve one of the best roast ducks in London. This is a bold claim, so the Euro Hedgie and I had to investigate for ourselves. We paid a lunchtime visit to the Wardour Street branch, although another branch on Gerrard Street is literally a minute’s walk around the corner and there’s also the farther flung original in Bayswater.
As expected, the decor is functional at best and the service is brusque, but efficient. None of this really matters though when compared to the beauty that is the roast duck. Compared to other roast ducks in Chinatown, Four Seasons’ version is remarkably free of fat and grease, so we weren’t constantly wiping rivulets of fat off our chins. Despite this, the boneless slithers of meat were moist and juicy with an extremely moreish flavour that tastes strongly of sweet soy sauce. The taut skins was waxy in places and crispy in others. It all comes together beautifully and it really is the best roast duck I’ve had anywhere.
Sadly, the ma po tofu is much more disappointing. Although the roast duck sits on a bed of green vegetables, they were rather limp so the Euro Hedgie and I felt the need to balance out our meat feast with something a little lighter. While the Euro Hedgie greatly enjoyed the ma po tofu, I was underwhelmed by the extremely toned down spiciness and thought the tofu was a little too soft and squidgy. The bland chunks of minced beef weren’t terribly endearing either.
Four Seasons’ roast duck truly is delicious and it’s the best I’ve had in London so far. Caution is required when exploring the rest of the huge menu though if the deeply disappointing ma po tofu is anything to go by.
Name: Four Seasons
Branch tried: 23 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PW
Phone: 020 7287 9995
Opening Hours: seven days a week, noon-23.30
Reservations: not taken.
Total cost for one person shared between two people: £16-20 approx.