The Chinese have a long-standing love-affair with duck. Stewed, roasted or braised—they have it down to a fine art.
The Teochews are famous for their braising sauce. They blend both light soy and dark soy sauces together with aromatics and spices. Every family pride themselves on their own unique recipe. Originally, the Teochews used goose. Later, duck became a popular alternative due to lower cost and higher availability. Comparatively, duck is also less gamey and has a finer texture than goose.
We check out some worthy recommendations from braised duck lovers and rate them in this taste-test. So, if you’re in a fowl mood lately, here’s where you can head for Teochew braised duck!
Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice EDITOR’S PICK!
Blk 665 Buffalo Road, #01-335 Tekka Food Centre
Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 9am-2.30pm
Price: from $3.50
With a nearly 50-year history, Heng Gi is an institution for old-school Teochew braised goose and duck. They are consistent in standard, and have developed a finesse that’s hard to match.
The braising gravy—which is the traditional thin kind—was robust yet restrained. Expertly carved into thin slices, the juicy meat retained a touch of bite but was mostly melt-in-the-mouth tender. In short, it was simply exquisite.
Except for the gizzard which was too tough, the side dishes were well-executed. The liver was of the perfect doneness, and the braised tau kwa was soft and tasty. The fresh chilli dip was a good balance of spiciness and tartness, providing lots of zing.
Cheok Kee Duck Rice BEST CHILLI
1220 East Coast Parkway, Stall 29 East Coast Lagoon Food Village
Opening hours: Wed-Mon: 11am-9.30pm
Price: from $4.00
Be prepared for a minimum 20-minute wait during dinnertime at this popular stall. Cheok Kee’s secret to success is their highly addictive sauce. Smooth and lightly thickened, it had excellent balance of sweet and savoury flavours.
This rich sauce was liberally ladled over thin slices of duck, liver and gizzard—all of which were cooked to the right doneness. On its own, the meat didn’t have much flavour, and had to rely on the accompanying gravy.
Although not traditional in style, Cheok Kee’s braised duck was immensely likeable. A nice surprise was the two kinds of chilli provided. One was a fragrant sambal, the other a lime-based dip. Both were mild but very appetising.
Tai Dong Teochew Braised Duck Rice MOST TENDER DUCK
9 Lorong Telok
Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 10.30am-2.30pm, closed Sun & PH
Price: from $3.50
For most tender duck, our pick goes to Tai Dong. The first thing we noticed was the dark, caramelised skin of the bird. Steeped in the flavours of the braising liquid—one that carried a mild whiff of herbs which enhanced but did not overpower the sauce—the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender.
The duck was so flavourful we could eat it on its own. In fact, some of us found the intensely rich gravy a tad salty. The watery chilli sauce had a sharp tang of vinegar, which helped to cut down some of the salt and richness.
They’ve got a wide variety of side items here—like the prerequisite braised innards, egg, and tau kwa—as well as a lovely stewed cabbage and braised peanuts.
Lek Kee Authentic Teochew Braised Duck BEST SIDE DISHES
Blk 32 New Market Road, #01-1104 People’s Park Food Centre
Opening hours: 11am-5pm, closed alternate Fri
Price: from $3.00
This stall really lives up to its claim of serving authentic Teochew-style braised duck. The clear braising liquid was light but sufficiently tasty. We liked the use of galangal (blue ginger) which gave it a lovely scent.
The duck had good bite, but could have been more tender. They chopped the bird the old-fashioned way, with the bone left intact. Some of us some found this a chore to eat!
We actually enjoyed the side dishes more than the main course. They stopped short of fully cooking the liver, which resulted in a beautifully creamy texture. The gizzards were braised till soft. A must-try is the simmered kiam chye (salted mustard). It was refreshing and complemented the braised items exceedingly well.
Blk 335 Smith Street, #02-140 Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Opening hours: 7am-2pm, closed Wed & PH
Price: from $3.00
This is another old-school style braised duck run by two elderly Cantonese ladies. Presentation was very rustic—all the items were chopped, plonked onto the plate, then drowned in braising liquid and sesame oil.
The duck meat was succulent and had bite to it. Unfortunately, we felt that the excessive sesame oil overwhelmed the braising sauce. It also made everything too oily. To make matters worse, the liver was overcooked.
But there was a saving grace (or chilli, for that matter). Their killer hae bee hiam! The rice was topped with a large dollop of this super fragrant, drool-inducing spicy dried shrimp. We mixed it into the rice and polished everything off in a flash!
Did our story make you crave for braised duck? Click here to find a stall near you.