Love A Duck – Balmoral
It is far from the first time we have frequented Love a Duck and it’s really taken an inexcusably long time for us to get round to reviewing it in an official capacity. However here we are, adding a key cheap eat to the database.
Love a Duck has multiple locations but our favourite is Dominion Road. Funnily enough, we usually come for a half duck (and maybe some cheeky prawns and a vegetable dish) but this time we decided to branch out and try new things. This is hard to do when our regular favourites are so good.
The interior is average to say the least, but the bright, white, clean-but-uninspiring interior punctuated with bright lanterns and haphazard decorations isn’t without charm. Could be the friendly staff or the fact that it’s constantly buzzing with couples, families and groups of friends. It’s a good vibe when it’s full.
In our efforts to diversify, we ordered the Fresh Tofu with Diced Pork on Steamed Rice ($12). This came with a lotus root, peanut, carrot and pork bone soup. We also ordered the Snow Peas with Black Fungus ($12) as I can’t resist ordering things with words like fungus in the title; and the blackboard special of Stir Fried Chinese Chives with Roast Duck and a choice of other meat (chicken, beef or pork) ($15).
The Tofu, soup and Snow peas were all tasty but in a very home-cooked way. I have been to Chinese people’s houses for dinner and this is real Mama cooking – basic, tasty and hearty – perfect for a cold Auckland night. The soup was intriguing in that it seemed like everything had been sucked out of the ingredients into the broth. The ‘bits’ were a bit bland but the stock was delicious and a very addictive beef hit, total comfort food. The Fresh tofu was very fresh and tasted like it had been made that day and the diced pork was more of a pork mince with the odd addition of frozen vegetables. Both the Snow peas and the Tofu dishes had a standard Chinese cornflour/soy type glaze and while not extraordinary were great tasty, filling food. The fungus was black mushrooms with a fabulous texture.
The star of the night was the Roast Duck stir fry. In addition to the chives it was fried with carrots and sprouts and the texture balance was perfect with the just-cooked crunch of the vegetables contrasted with the melting tenderness of the duck and beef. The sauce was good and strong with heavy garlic and oyster sauce overtones, much bolder than the other dishes. Despite ordering three dishes and a soup between two people we demolished everything on all plates – something which I’m not sure we’re proud of as the servings are generous.
Feeling pleased that we had at least tried other things on the menu I would still go back to our standard order of half BBQ duck, garlic prawns and combination vegetables with oyster sauce. Old habits die hard.
Check out Love a Duck, how can you miss out on a place with such a delightful name?