[Penang, Malaysia] London Duck at Gurney Plaza

London Duck Chinese restaurant is a part of the Village Roast Duck chain run by 4 Ipoh-born siblings who, together, had worked for London’s 3 top Cantonese roast duck restaurants in Bayswater over an 8-year period: proprietress-manager, Kenix Choo, and her brother Choo Kok Wai worked at the famous Four Seasons, whilst their sister, Tienna Choo, and brother, Kelvin Choo, had worked at Gold Mine and Kam Tong. They returned to Malaysia and first opened Village Roast Duck in Bangsar Village back in 2010. Since then, branches had been opened in KL’s top malls like Gardens at Mid-Valley and the Pavilion. London Duck, which opened at Gurney Plaza late last year is their first branch outside the Klang Valley.

  1. The dish to order here is, of course, the Special Roast Duck, Cantonese-style. Mdm Kenix Choo explained that the ducks (local ones, not as large or fatty as Irish ones used in the UK) were first marinated in a special blend of Chinese spices, before being air-dried for at least 24-hours prior to roasting. The result were tender juicy ducks with a lacquered mahogany finish, gleamingly luscious. The duck is basted with a liquidy sauce which is not as sweet as those I’d had in London, perhaps to cater to Malaysian tastes. The meat is tasty, but nowhere near the deliciousness of those I’d had in London.

  1. The Pumpkin Soup with Seafood was slightly on the bland side. Fresh shrimps used, but not terribly exciting for me.

  2. For those who wanted to try a typical London duck dish which is hard to find outside Britain, go for the Crispy Aromatic Duck with Pancakes. This involved a portion of duck (can be whole, half or a quarter) which is marinated then deep-fried till brown and crisp-skinned, then de-boned and shredded table-side by the waiter. The shredded meat will be served Peking duck-style: with pancakes, cucumber wands, leeks and hoi-sin beanpaste sauce on small rice flour pancakes.

  1. One of my favourite dishes at this restaurant, as at its Village Roast Duck main outlet, also happens to be one of the simplest: Fried Eggs on Tofu, drizzled with good soysauce, then topped with chopped green scallions and tiny, crisp-fried anchovies.

The fried eggs should have molten yolk centres.

  1. One simply cannot go to a Cantonese roast meats restaurant and not order a roast meat platter with Char Siew and Siew Yoke, the twin combination of Cantonse-style caramelised BBQ pork, and crackling-skinned roast pork. Both were done very welll here.

  2. The braised mixed vegetables we ordered was rather bland and unexciting - a combination of fried soft tofu, carrot, sweet peas, baby corn, mushrooms and gai lan.

  3. Dessert was given gratis here - a small mould of Gui Ling Gao black herbal jelly. I loved this, and would actually always look forward to it at the end of every meal here.

Address
London Duck
Plaza Gurney, 170-03-86, Gurney Drive
10250 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6042170990
Operating hours: 11am to 10pm daily

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Feb 9 2021 - Day 28 of the current lockdown. No dining in allowed, so lunch was a take-out of London Duck’s popular roast duck rice (Cantonese: “siu ngap fun”/ 燒鴨飯). A bargain at MYR 8.40 (US$2.10).

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4 years of living in Penang, and 7 years prior to that in KL, taught me one thing: the ONLY place one can find KL-style wantan mee in Penang is at London Duck, Gurney Plaza.

A branch of the Choo family’s Village Duck chain that started in Bangsar Village, London Duck’s noodles have the smoother texture typical of KL’s, and unlike the stiffer, cellophane-like Penang wantan noodles.

Their dressing is also more savoury, as “char siew” drippings are added, with their maltose flavours and meaty marinade.

The wantan dumplings here are large, firm parcels with minced pork and shrimp filling.

Of course, the standard here is nowhere near those one finds at top KL places, e.g. Kei Suk in Pudu. Until one can travel inter-state again to KL, this is the place for wantan mee for me.

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Lunch today is a take-out of Singapore fried noodles from London Duck.

There is, of course, no such dish as Singapore fried noodles in Singapore. Nor is there any noodle dish in Singapore which vaguely resembles this dish.

“Singapore fried noodles” is purportedly invented in Hong Kong during the 1950s/60s by the Cantonese chefs there who threw curry powder into their fried rice noodles (“mai fun”/米粉) as they had this stereotyped view that Singaporeans like all their food spicy.

Coming from Singapore, I had my very first taste of “Singapore fried noodles” in, of all places, Washington DC’s Chinatown. That was back in the early 90s and I was already in my 30s then! I was on a business trip visiting Singapore Airlines’ office there and, on one weekend whilst exploring Chinatown, I saw this strange item called “Singapore Myphoon” on the menu of a Chinese restaurant near Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station. I went in there, ordered it, and was served this stir-fried “mai fun” dish tinged yellow with curry. I surmised that someone there erroneously thought Singaporeans would pronounce anything spelt “mai fun” as “my-phoon”, and changed the spelling to reflect it that way. :joy: :joy: :joy:

In fact, in Singapore, we would have called that particular rice vermicelli “bee hoon”, in our dominant Hokkien/Minnan dialect.

London Duck, reflecting its British-Chinese roots (one of its house specialities is British-Chinese crispy duck, served with pancakes) offers Singapore fried noodles, but done pretty well here. Adjusted to suit the Chinese-Malaysian palate, it’s stir-fried with “char siew” (Cantonese BBQ pork), shrimps, eggs, onions, beansprouts, chive and red chilis. No curry powder.

Very tasty, with quite a bit of “wok hei” which the Cantonese would look for in a stir-fried noodle dish. A bit greasier than I’d have liked, though.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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