Holy Duck! Chippendale
Being only a stone's throw from Central, the Kensington Street precinct and its' casual laneway Spice Alley, is probably the most accessible dining hub in Sydney. Made up of a versatile mix of fast-casual's, cafes, restaurants and bars, it's a good choice for those wanting to eat out in the city but unsure of where to land.
If you've ever been Chef's Gallery (their first venture from 2010), you won't be new to a 45 minute wait during peak time, let alone be shocked about it. It's the same deal here. Good food, long queues, similar price tags but perhaps a quieter more refined vibe. Sure - Holy Duck's name is illuminated in bright lights against the back wall, but there is something about the exposed brick, emerald tiling and polished timber that collectively gives a refreshing break from the well-worn communal tables and commotion experienced on George Street. Don't be fooled though - despite the fancy gold-dipped chopsticks the service is equal between the two venues meaning the refined vibe only seems to have an effect on it's customers.
It's duck season! And after a year in, their whole signature crispy duck ($68) is on special for half price this month. Of course, I fail to remember this at the time and it's not a special they let people know about once your visiting in-person - despite one whole page of specials clipped in with the normal menu. We order a half duck anyway ($39), and lose ourselves in the meat-heavy menu that's full of BBQ delights. It's a simple task when given straightforward options and whilst we sip on our Spiced Orange G&T ($17) and a glass of pinot (wildly only $9.50!) we peruse the remaining pages.
Queen Chow's Gai Lan - the most enjoyable green side I've ever ordered, drives me to compare with Holy Duck's greens with Oyster, Soy & Onions ($17). For me, green sides are usually only there to allay any guilt that I might get from dinner. That said, for $17, that's all they do here, and hardly compare to the silky, orderly cut and piled leaves from the Queen, that I still dream about.
I'm a chicken-wing fiend at heart, so we also take a chance on the Sichuan Hot and Numbing Chicken Wings ($20).The Sichuan Chicken wings are a moderate serve for the price and are beautifully spread with fried sichuan mix of peppercorns, chilli and peanuts. They are tender, and only soft on heat, giving our face a mild buzz. The duck is shred at the table, leaving little work for a dish needing assembly. It lives up to it's name, and cooked so well that I felt safe chewing through some of the smaller bones. There won't be much left from a half-bird when sharing between two so prepare to pay up or make use of the special if they ever mention it again.
Consider the food here satisfying and above average. On the other hand, service is extremely polite yet a little inefficient.
Don't think this is the best restaurant in Sydney? Let me know below what is!