Another victim of soaring rents in Tiong Bahru, Hong Kong Jin Tian is ceasing business at the end of April. Very soon, the hipster neighbourhood may just be left with bakeries and cupcake joints.
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Located just opposite the entrance of Tiong Bahru Market, the roast meats specialist will close by 28 April 2014. Hong Kong Jin Tian’s landlord has decided to raise the rental from $8,000 to $12,000 a month.
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The stall first opened in the old Tiong Bahru Market in 2002, before moving to this location in 2007. The starting rent then was $3,000, which has been going up by $1,000 annually. Hong Kong Jin Tian has racked up accolades for its assortment of roast meats, and is especially famous for moist roast duck made with a secret marinade.
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The mouthwatering display of duck, chicken, liver sausage, pork and duck leg wrap is freshly prepared and roasted each day.
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Duck leg wrap ($2.50) is difficult to find these days, but it was popularly enjoyed in the 1970s and '80s. A duck's web, bundled with a piece of meat, liver, fat and (in this version) a slice of yam, all tied with duck's intestine, is smothered in sweet sauce and barbequed.
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The kitchen at the back of the shophouse contains several wood fired ovens where the meats are roasted at high heat.
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Ducks are lined up and evenly roasted for an undisclosed number of hours.
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Hardworking chef Yip, 62, hails from Hong Kong and first came to Singapore in 1986. He worked at Holiday Inn Parkview and Pan Pacific Hotel and has been mastering the art of roast for over 40 years.
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He won’t say how many ducks they sell, but it’s the fastest moving item here, often sold out before closing hours.
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Freshly roasted meats resting – before they are sent out to the front of house.
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At the front of house, either chef Yip, his son Qi Xian, or another assistant expertly chops and serves the meat only when the customer makes an order.
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There’s the option of rice, or dry or soup noodles to go with the reasonably-priced roasted meats.
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Soon, loyal customers will no longer be able to enjoy the generous plate of duck noodles ($3.50) as chef Yip will be hanging up his apron unless he finds another suitable location.