We enjoyed our first visit to A. Wong back in 2014 – and things have been going strong for Andrew Wong and his modern Chinese restaurant in Pimlico ever since. My visit on this occasion however is for the Peking duck tasting menu.
The restaurant isn’t much to look at which is quite nice really – there’s no pomp or pretension. Service is equally as straightforward; relaxed and efficient. We sit opposite the open kitchen’s pass which adds atmos, along with the odd expletive.
The menu starts with a collection of snacks which come out thick and fast. Shanghai soup dumplings, known as XLB, arrive topped with confit duck leg skin. A wondrous thing. Another dumpling filled with duck liver, pomelo and chive flower oil is made to look like a goldfish which is super cute.
A cup of duck broth with shiitake mushroom is the sort of thing you’d die for when you’ve got a cold; salty and comforting. Chunks of seared duck heart with gong bao sauce are a little overcooked which is a shame – duck hearts are always best when they’re bright pink and bouncy.
The whole duck is then brought to the table, and it’s a thing of beauty, shortly followed by the roasted skin along with a side of cinnamon sugar. The rich, fattiness and the sweet sugar is a flavour combination I’m still dreaming about today.
Duck and pancakes with plum sauce (along with the duck’s head) is a classic blend of ritual and flavours which shouldn’t be messed with. And here it isn’t. The quality of the meat is sublime.
More food arrives; cispy duck with chilli and pickled carrots, Sichuanese aubergines, dry fried duck with oyster sauce and french beans with minced duck. It’s loads of food but because nothing is too oily or greasy it doesn’t make us feel disgustingly full. Those beans are marvellous by the way.
For pud, it’s a duck egg custard bun and I’d have to agree with my old mate Jay Rayner – it’s a bloody wonderful thing (he liked it too). The inside is gooey and oozy, rich and tooth meltingly sweet – it’s worth a visit just for one of these.
The menu we tried at A. Wong was a real celebration of the duck – and there must have been barely any wastage – I even picked out the brain. If an animal is going to die for our bellies then what better use for it than here.
Would we go back? Yes.
We dined as guests of the restaurant