As I took my seat at a table in Forbidden Duck, the newest F&B spot in the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC), I instantly felt like I was back in Hong Kong.
The interior of Forbidden Duck screams posh modern Hong Kong and like most family-friendly Chinese restaurants, there are private rooms you can book to have a more intimate gathering.
Being from a Cantonese heritage myself, I was very excited and anxious to try out the food here. And hearing that they were serving my all-time favourite dish – roast duck – I was impatient for the food to arrive.
We were also joined by the famous ‘Demon Chef’ Alvin Leung, who also is the owner and founder of Forbidden Duck. He told us that Forbidden Duck has only been open in Hong Kong for 4 months and has since seen a huge success. And within a short time following is grand opening, he was presented to opportunity to start his brand in Singapore.
Chef Leung, although from Hong Kong, has lived a long time in Canada. This western exposure could be the reason behind his inventive approach to traditional dishes with exceptional finesse, taking duck concept to a whole new level, as well as creating contemporary renditions of classic Cantonese dishes.
Well, enough with the introductions, let’s move on to the food.
In my opinion, which Chef Leung also shares, is that a good Cantonese restaurant is defined by its ability to cook good roast meat.
Forbidden Duck’s Iberico Pork Char Siew ($30) was nothing short of amazing. I personally prefer my char siew slightly charred and not swimming in its marinade, and this checked all my boxes for a good char siew.
The piece de resistance was their Signature Slow Roasted Duck ($88). Before I get into that, I would like to say that it’s very difficult to find roasted duck that is not just tender but has a nice crisp skin. Most would end up with a crispy skin but overcooked dry and tough meat.
You would notice that the duck’s meat here does not have a dark grey colour, instead it’s a little pinkish, and with that one look, you can tell that it’s going to be rather tender. Slow roasting the duck releases duck jus, which does look a little like blood, but fret not, it isn’t. The colour comes from its skin which has a slight red tinge.
And this dish is what made me decide that Forbidden Duck is a good Cantonese restaurant. Similar to Peking duck, you’d eat this with the mantao buns – which you would notice has a yellow tinge, because calamansi is added to it, giving the bun a slight acidic flavour – as well as similar condiments served when you would order a Pekng duck.
Next, we had the Marinated Duck Tongue and Jellyfish with Sichuan Green Sauce ($18). Okay okay, I know duck tongue might sound a bit scary to some, but if you like soft bones and cartilages, you’d definitely love this.
This is my first time eating duck tongue and I loved it. Plus, I love jellyfish too. So this dish is definitely something I would come back for.
There’s a first time for everything and here’s another first for me – Duck in Two Ways, Laksa Style ($18). I have no idea how Chef Leung does it, but this came out very delicious and quite refreshing. I noticed that Chef Leung seems to have developed a liking towards our local Calamansi and has added that into a lot of his dishes, which nicely creates a nice tangy twist to them.
Most of the dishes in Forbidden Duck’s menu replicates the ones in Hong Kong. One exception is the Sri Lankan Crab in White Pepper Broth ($98 for about 700g), which is only found in Singapore. This dish is almost like a combination of two of Singapore’s favourite dishes – Black Pepper Crab and Bak Kut Teh. Since both the dishes have a peppery note, Chef Leung has created a black pepper soup cooked with crab instead of the usual pork ribs.
To my surprise, this turned out even better than regular Bak Kut Teh, in my opinion. I loved that it had a nice seafood flavour to the broth and the spicy pepper makes this soup an excellent choice to warm you up during a cold rainy evening. Don’t forget to have it with the youtiao!
What’s a Cantonese restaurant without sweet and sour pork? Forbidden Ducks’s Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychee, Rose and Hawthorn ($23) was super fragrant with the fruity and flowery additions.
When Chef Leung came to Singapore and heard that cereal prawn is a favourite here. He had to give this a try and add his own creative thoughts into it. Hence, the Golden Cereal Prawn ($30) is created, featuring an all-time favourite cereal – Fruit Loops!
Yes, I know how odd this sounds, but surprisingly, the sweet and fruity cereal nicely complemented the fried prawns and wasabi fruit salad.
Chef Leung was telling us how some of his dishes have Hakka influences due to his wife, is from a Hakka heritage. This can be seen in the Steamed Chicken with Mui Choy in Lotus Leaf ($28).
This whole dish was cooked in a bag, keeping all the flavours inside. You can clearly taste that the mui choy and the gravy has nicely seeped into the chicken meat, making every bite utterly flavourful.
I grew up in quite a traditional Cantonese household, where every meal I eat at home will be accompanied with a bowl of soup. So, when this last dish - Seafood Rice in Aromatic Duck Soup ($32) – came out, I was excited and upset.
Excited because it was soup dish that was super comforting with rice and was bursting with flavour. Upset because I was already quite full by the time this dish came around and could not stomach much of this. This, in my opinion, is a must-try and something I’ll definitely come back for more.
And it doesn’t end there. We also tried some dimsum out of Forbidden Duck’s Dimsum menu that’s only served in the afternoon.
We had the Crispy Taro Pastry Stuffed with Duck and Preserved Vegetable ($6) or more commonly known as “wu kok” in Cantonese. Unlike your typical ones, the wu kok here is stuffed with savoury duck meat and preserved vegetables and then fried to a crispy perfection.
Putting a fusion spin on the classic spring rolls, the Pesto Duck Spring Roll ($6) is a delectable combination of nutty pesto and duck meat, all wrapped and rolled up in a crispy thin pastry wrapper.
And last but not least, another first for me here, was the Giant Egg Tart Pomelo ($6). Unlike your regular egg tarts, this is almost twice the size and with double the filling. It comes with smooth egg custard and pomelo (or yuzu) for a refreshing touch to the classic Cantonese egg tart. Personally, I would’ve preferred the classic egg tart, but I did find this sweeter and a pretty refreshing dessert.
For some Cantonese food with a creative twist, Forbidden Duck is definitely the place to go! If you’re ever in Hong Kong, give their outlet there a try too.