Pop Brixton is a community project where you can be guaranteed some live events (there is a gig when we were there), social enterprises – that’s business reinvesting their profits for the world of social good, some retailers feature as do restaurants. Duck Duck Goose is one of those restaurants and it’s homed in one of the many shipping containers the venue is made of up. It looks like Tetris – kind of. It’s a Cantonese canteen with brushes of cha-cha-teng styling and a big hat-tilt to the BBQ and roasted meat shops of Hong Kong. The modest situation is tightly packed into a container with only 4 tables or so, a stretch of bar and a custom oven. The man behind it is London-born chef Oli Brown, a former head chef at Le Café Anglais in Bayswater and also at The Continental in Hong Kong. He brings his representation of Cantonese roast meat in all its majesty to us since Jan 2017.
Man like Oli!
The menu is a nice display of things that once walked the land or swam in the sea, steamed, fried, roasted or wok seared.
The drinks menu also has a nice list of serviceable reds, whites and a Tsing Tao features which is our weapon of choice.
If prawn toast was your staple-go-to-from-your-local then you’d probably like this souped-up version. A golf ball sized lump of sesame peppered mashed prawns take centre stage on the fried white bread. Bonito flakes do their Mexican wave from the heat, and it’s all punched up with endive and slinky discs of kohlrabi folded onto themselves. The assertive sweet tang kewpie mayo is a welcome guest too.
Salt and pepper salsify £5 make brilliant dancing parters’ with our ice cold Tsing Tao beer. Most things salt and peppered that get the searing, toasty, blistering wok treatment is good in my opinion. It’s a fun way to “Cantonese” a very cheffy ingredient.
We went for half a roast duck between the four of us £21.50. What we got was deep copper coloured skin that reflected the warm beam of low hanging lights. Beneath the skin, most of the fat is rendered, but what was left gave a fatty film of flavour against the tender flesh. I’m doubtless that to get a product this good takes relentless skill, care and work. Cheerleading condiments of mustard, pickles and real plum sauce feature, but the soy based liquor it comes with is all it needs.
Pork belly £8.50 gets a classic rub of 5 spice and is roasted in their custom oven until the skin is like 40-grit sandpaper and shatters with gentle jaw pressure. Of course there are interplays of fat, protein, fat and protein that interlope against each other. It too comes with the same luscious soy based liquor as the duck.
Soy poached chicken £15 was a skilfully deboned succulent affair full of soft indulgence. It takes a high level of expertise to get the temperature of the soy based braising liquid just right for the perfect poach. They nail it here.
Dunk your chicken into the ginger-spring-onion oil for maximum pleasure.
Seasonal greens £8.50 come in the form of purple sprouting broccoli, turnip tops, hispi cabbage and fiolaro – a distance cousin of broccoli. The whole business is wok tossed with chilli and sesame for maximum toasty notes.
The egg fried rice with confit pork belly, chestnuts and pickled kohlrabi £9 was another masterstroke – a good fried rice is unbeatable.
Onto the desserts
First up was the poached rhubarb which is pimped up with chilli and mint, Shaoxing wine and comes with a scoop of coconut sorbet. It was a pleasant palate cleansing surprise.
Chan chaan teng peanut butter French toast with caramel and soy ice cream £6.50 is I can imagine, Chef Oli’s interpretation of a Hong Kong classic. The pan crisped white bread sandwich has lashings of peanut butter within and is laced with gusts of sweetness from the condensed milk. Soy gives the ice cream a depth of flavour, and is different too without being offensive.
We complete the meal with a lychee and plum wine sorbet £3.75 that makes a case for itself for cleansing the palate for the beers ahead.
When did I go? March 2018
The damage: Expect to pay £40/50 per head with drinks
The good: We we’re really well looked after and well fed on a Friday night with change from £50. Come here for the roast meats obviously which are in a class of their own, but the side dishes were compelling in their own right too; the prawn toast is a case in point as was the fried rice. Let’s not forget about how good they treat their greens too.
The bad: It’s in a shipping container, so if you have claustrophobia you could probably put up with it as the food is that good. Book in in advanced too as I saw people getting turned away left, right and centre.
Would I go again? Sadly it’s now permanently closed
Address: op Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, SW9 8PQ