I’ve been mad keen to visit The Crispy Duck on Whitchurch Road for a long time.
They’ve won Oriental restaurant of the year in the South Wales Echo Food & Drink awards, a clutch of people have recommended it, and their menu of pan-Asian food reads really well (think sushi, yakitori, noodles and Cantonese classics amongst others).
They’ve clearly got a broad fan-base too. On the Thursday evening we visited, the clientele ranged from Asian businessmen to toned crossfitters and a large group celebrating an 80th birthday party.
As we chose from the menu, we ordered a couple of beers and nibbled on a bowl of complimentary deep fried snacks that were light on seasoning and flavour.
Whilst there’s a ton of interesting sounding dishes on Crispy Duck’s menu, its expansiveness and the seemingly arbitrary differentiation between some of the starters and mains (beef teriyaki (£8.80) is a starter whilst crispy duck salad (£5.50) is a main) made ordering more of a conundrum than usual.
Put it this way, constructing a meal of adequate size and balance took longer than my usual ten seconds.
To start we shared a couple of dishes.
A plate of chicken gyoza (£5.50) was excellent. Delicate dumplings encased a light chicken and spring onion filling. A salty & citrusy ponzu dipping sauce was the ideal companion.
Disappointingly, a dish of crispy duck (£5.50) didn’t deserve its name above the door of the restaurant. Served as 2 ready-rolled pancakes, the portion was a little skimpy, the meat wasn’t crispy and the pancakes were on the dry-side.
For mains, Mrs G went down the sushi route whilst I went stir fry.
Scottish salmon and avocado rolls (£6.80) looked pretty as a picture and tasted very good. However, a layer of chewy nori made for a messy eat.
Inari sushi (£3) were excellent. A soft pouch of flavoursome fried tofu cocooned moist, firm & well seasoned rice.
My honey beer chicken (£6.80) was a mixed bag. A tender chicken breast surrounded in a delightfully light and crispy batter was let down by a one-dimensionally sweet honey beer sauce.
Steamed rice (£3) was pleasingly sticky but lacked any seasoning.
Crispy Duck’s brief dessert menu reads like an afterthought - assorted cakes with special fruit anyone?
The reality did nothing to dispel this first impression.
A scoop of tasty green tea ice cream was accompanied by a grainy red bean number (£3).
Apple crumble tray cake (£4.80) was pappy with an unforgivably soft crumble topping. It was paired with a scoop of generic vanilla ice cream.
There’s a lot I like about The Crispy Duck – the super friendly service, aesthetically pleasing plating and on occasion very good food are all big pluses. However, it’s the fine details which let many of the dishes down. With a menu of such scope, it could be argued that this is inevitable.
Address - 21 Whitchurch Road, Heath, Cardiff, CF14 3JN
Telephone - 029 2062 8008