Opened just last month on a quiet stretch of Jinan Road (濟南路), Ducky Restaurant already promises to become a favorite among Taipei’s foodies.
The restaurant’s goal is to use produce and meat grown or raised locally in dishes inspired by French cuisine, thereby creating new flavors and combinations. Ingredients include seafood and meat purchased daily from local markets. Ducky Restaurant’s menu is also reasonably priced. The most expensive entree is the steak-fries at NT$580, while most dishes cost between NT$300 to NT$450. A set meal is also available each night with a different main course.
As soon as you walk into Ducky Restaurant, you can sense its attention to detail. The dining room is filled with long blonde-wood tables designed for large groups and families. Large windows allow plenty of sunlight to pour in during the day and give diners a panoramic view of the tree-lined street and nearby Japanese-style houses.
Dishes are also carefully designed. My dining companion and I ordered the grilled assorted seafood and tapenade with focaccia (NT$280) to split for our appetizer. Ducky’s menu of starters is very brief, and the only two other items are Caesar salad (NT$190) and potato fondant (NT$210), bamboo and grilled cabbage sprouts with truffle dressing, which our waitress suggested as a lighter alternative to the seafood.
We were very pleased with our choice, however — the dish featured a heap of juicy calamari and plump shrimp with cloves of grilled garlic, all tossed in the tapenade. It was simple, but delicious. The black olives in the tapenade provided a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the fresh calamari and shrimp.
My friend ordered the pan-fried chicken breast with Shaoxing cream sauce and seasonal vegetables (NT$380). The meat was very good — juicy and so tender that it could have been cut with a fork, but with a crispy, savory skin. The Shaoxing rice wine in the sauce, usually used in Chinese dishes like drunken chicken, added an unexpected flavor and depth to the dish.
The pesto risotto with pan-roasted daily fish (NT$380) is one of the most visually striking dishes on Ducky Restaurant’s current roster. The fish is cooked until the skin is crisp and then laid on a bed of the green risotto, which is garnished with cherry tomatoes for some pops of contrasting color The risotto’s basil-based sauce was delicious and the plump, short-grain rice was suitably al dente, but I would have preferred if the dish was thicker and creamier. The fish, on the other hand, was fantastic.
Judging by the items being carried out of the kitchen to a full dining room, another one of Ducky Restaurant’s most popular items is the aforementioned steak-fries. The beef is prepared in a black pepper and red wine sauce.
For dessert we enjoyed one of Ducky Restaurant’s signature dishes, the apple creme brulee (NT$150). The indulgent treat is flavored with bits of stewed apple and a hint of cinnamon, making it much more interesting than the run-of-the-mill vanilla version.
Despite being a newcomer, Ducky Restaurant is already enjoying brisk business, and reservations are highly recommended on weekends. The establishment’s menu is short, but it is clear that every dish has been created and prepared with care.