Royal London Duck @ Mandarin Gallery
Fei Siong has opened its own brand Royal London Duck in Mandarin Gallery recently.
I am going to be honest here. It took me awhile to decide if I want to write about Royal London Duck. Because my first visit there three days after the opening was closed to disastrous. But as with all restaurants, there is definitely teething issues in the begnning. What’s more important is, the chef is willing to accept feedback and make it better. So a few weeks later, I went back again and tried the same dishes. Conclusion? Definitely much better!
Helming the kitchen is Chef Ben Hui, who opened the famous 東寶小館 Tung Po Restaurant in Hong Kong. He ended the partnership and went to London to open Chinese Grand Imperial Restaurant in Guoman Hotel London and they do one of the best Peking Ducks outside of Chinatown. Subsequently, he has been to many great restaurants in Malaysia, Philippines, China and Singapore. His last stint was to open London Fat Duck in Scotts Square.
Here, there is the usual Cantonese restaurant classics like dim sum, char siew, congee and noodles. The signature is, of course, Royal London Duck ($48 whole, $25 half, $13 quarter). Using about 2.8kg of london duck where the skin and meat is at its most tender stage, Chef Ben marinated the duck with apple for 6 hours before roasting it.
Lycheee wood is used to add a smoky and pleasant fruity fragrance to the roast. No crispy skin at all but they have firm meat with glossed-brown skin. It is drizzled with fruity sauce that is made from the marinade to cut through the oiliness. If you prefer individual portion, you can also go for Royal London Duck Rice ($8.80).
The Crispy Pork ($15.80) was a little salty and dry on my first visit. But it got better the second time I was there, with crispy skin and juicy layers of meat underneath. The skin is crispy brittle to the point that it is almost breaking. You can hear the crackling sound when you bite into the skin. Special Honey Roasted Pork ($16.80) will make char siew lovers scream for joy as it was nicely charred with caramelised fatty layers.
Like a duck confit in the most crispy form, the Crispy Aromatic Duck ($48 whole, $25 half) is fragrant and the waiter will tear it into shreds before wrapping it together with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce within a pancake. The aroma is there but sadly, it was a little too dry for my liking.
My favourite is the Royal London Duck Black Pepper Sauce Bun ($5.80). The first time, the buns were flat and out of shape, with very little fillings and rather bland duck meat. But during our second visit, it was good. Each bun has good amount of diced duck and the black pepper sauce was more prominent than before. With one bite, you could get the warm crusty layers and a great tasting duck!
Then of course, there are some dim sum items which are quite well executed. The Fried Chicken Dumplings ($4.80) are packed with tender chicken meat that are moist and juicy. And the Charcoal Lava Bun ($5.20)… Oomph… The golden custard lava oozes when peel open. Xiao Long Bao’s ($5.20) skin was a little too thick and not enough soup.
Noodles is not their strength, I must say. We had two plates of noodles – Fresh Prawn Wanton Noodle Dry ($8.80) and Beef Brisket Noodle Dry ($8.80). The first time I tried it, they were lumpy and dry. The second time I tried it, it was better with the addition of more sauce but it wasn’t memorable. If you ask me, I would prefer the beef brisket version which is more wet and tasty, even though the beef can more slightly more tender.
Snow Lady ($4) is still a no for me. By first look, it already loses its appeal. The mochi skin was a little thick with some cream and mango cubes in it. Yes the mango was sweet but the cream was very rough and there are definitely better versions out there. Probably the next time I come, I should try their chilled mango sago cream with pomelo ($5.20) and shunde double-layer milk custard ($4.20) instead.
There are definitely hits and misses at Royal London Duck but no restaurant is perfect to begin with. My second experience was pleasant and I don’t mind coming back for the roast meats and dim sum as they were well executed.
Royal London Duck
Address: 333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery #04-21/22/23, Singapore 238897
Phone: +65 68361188
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm daily
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