It’s easy to slate a below-average restaurant and get carried away with a foul-mouthed review laying into every aspect of the establishment. But, I’m going to start my review of Junior Duck—local Chinese chain Golden Duck’s riverside outlet at Pansodan jetty—with some reasons you might want to visit before giving a fair appraisal of the dishes I tried.
The restaurant’s riverside location with lots of outside seating makes it a great place to enjoy sunset in a relaxed setting with, perhaps, some cold beers. Next to the Dala Ferry and new water bus terminal, it’s also a great location for people coming into downtown via Yangon’s waterways. The staff are enthusiastic and the menu is extensive, ranging from cheap(ish) barbecue options to 30,000-kyat seafood dishes.
Inspired by the name, I started with the roast duck. It was reasonably priced (8,300 kyats for a half) and looked great—thick pieces of meat and a glistening, crispy skin. At first bite it became clear the cooking method was ample, and the texture was pretty spot on. Unfortunately, it lacked the rich gamey flavor needed to push my roast duck buttons and
was served with a (sickly sweet) sweet bean sauce which I would guess came straight out of the jar.
I followed with some chicken wings, pork rib, and squid (around 3,000 kyats per, pretty measly, portion). The barbecue may have been the highlight of the meal—the meat was fresh and doused in what tasted like a Chinese-style blend of cumin, star anise, peppercorns and a lovely freshly-charred barbecue flavor. Not that much better than a street-side barbecue that would charge half as much, but you should expect to pay a
little extra for the location.
Unfortunately, the meal went rather downhill from there. The menu is hard to navigate—complete with charming mistranslations such as “pork world” and “family all together”—and follows a formula of pork/shrimp/chicken with ginger/soy bean/curry/sweet and sour followed by some more exciting seafood dishes and fried rice/noodle dishes. I think it would best be described as localized Chinese cuisine.
The chicken with ginger was bizarre, large pieces of watery chicken breasts in a gloopy, sweet dark sauce with no discernible ginger taste. The prawns in the prawn with black bean sauce were not fresh and I couldn’t find any black beans. Kailan with garlic is hard to mess up but it was too salty and too much cornstarch had been added, resulting in a horrible gloopy green mess. The chicken fried rice was passable but no different from the htamin kyaw you’d get at a beer station or teashop for 1,000 kyats. There was a hint of dirty dishcloth flavor to each dish, and I suspect a liberal amount of MSG was being used.
Not to be entirely negative, the Japanese tofu with vegetables was fairly pleasant, with both a soft and a solid tofu sautéed with mixed, vegetables, garlic and a light curry seasoning. I cannot, in good conscience, advise you to visit the restaurant expecting a delicious meal but, if you happen to be in the area and want a riverside spot just away from the clamor of downtown then this could be a viable option. Get a seat overlooking the water, order some barbecue and some drinks (but not the fruit juices—flavorless and pithy) and then move on to somewhere else for your main nourishment.
Address: Nanthidar Compound, Strand Road, (at the end of Pansodan Street, near Dala ferry and watertaxi stop), Botahtaung Township, Yangon.
Phone: 01 249 421
Opening Hours: 9 am – 9 pm