Braised duck rice seems to play second fiddle to chicken rice as a quick go-to meal in Singapore. But it certainly has ardent supporters as reflected by snaking queues at established outlets serving this savoury dish.
Predominantly prepared in either Hokkien or Teochew style, this fragrant and savoury poultry dish is an excellent alternative to chicken rice. It’s easy to tell both styles of the heritage dish apart too.
The Hokkien version is blanketed over thick sauce and often paired with yam rice while the Teochew counterpart is splashed with light broth on white rice. Specific hawkers will also substitute it with rice that’s flavoured with their in-house braised soy sauce.
Although the star of this moreish dish is the duck, you can also personalise a hearty meal by adding other sides to your plate. From braised egg, braised peanuts, and preserved vegetables to tau pok (tofu puffs) and tau kua (firmed tofu), the combinations are endless. Sometimes, the meal is rounded up with a complimentary small bowl of herbal soup that warms the body.
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Read on to find out where to get the best versions of both Hokkien and Teochew variations in town today.
Where to find the best braised duck rice in Singapore
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Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice has specialised in the Teochew-style dish for more than 60 years. This well-known establishment first started at the now-defunct Hill Street Food Centre and moved to its current location at Tekka Market and Food Centre. The fragrant braised sauce is definitely the highlight here, and it should be. Flavours from the infused herbs aren’t overpowering, making you want to have more rice during your meal.
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In business for over 30 years and counting, Tai Dong Teochew Duck Rice is another go-to spot in Singapore. Business is brisk and the wait to get a plate isn’t long despite its never-ending queue. The aromatic soy sauce-based gravy colours the duck meat evenly, which results in an overall satisfying bite. Add on a side order of cabbage for refreshing contrast too.
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You certainly won’t miss this store situated in the ever-bustling Ghim Moh Food Centre. A Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient alum, Chuan Kee Boneless Braised Duck debones the duck for customers. Compared to other shops, they use fresh ducks sourced from Malaysia, so they’ll be sweeter and more tender compared to versions that use frozen ducks. Although Chuan Kee prepares the dish Teochew-style, it is finished with a delicious Hokkien-style sauce that’s thickened with starch.
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Ah Xiao Teochew Braised Duck conjures nostalgia with their edition of the dish. Simple yet comforting. Ah Xiao Teochew Braised Duck has served up no-frills Teochew-style braised duck rice since the 1990s and is now run by second-generation owners. The sweet flavour from their special braised sauce comes through subtly even though it has a light consistency, and compliments the dish’s fluffy rice grains well.
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It has been said that the owner of Ah Heng Duck Rice, Uncle Yang, founded Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice and that his two disciples are running the latter now. Besides the bone-in duck, this store also offers an assortment of sides like braised egg, pig skin, pork belly, and preserved vegetables to complete your meal. With the salty-leaning sauce, it’s also a must to brush the competently sliced duck with the vinegar-based chilli sauce.
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It’s a game of luck to savour this dish from Ah Seng Braised Duck Rice, mostly because they might either be sold out or unexpectedly closed on the day visit. Having a noticeably darker (blackish) sauce than the typical glazed caramel hue of the Hokkien-style sauce, its traditional braised flavours from the braised marinade proved to be a hit with many. Thus, Ah Seng’s Teochew-style creation has attracted many customers to wait patiently for their turn to have it.
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With over 40 years of experience to their name, Sia Kee Duck Rice has attracted many fans to their messy-but-tasty version. On their menu are only two options: Duck rice and duck porridge. While individual enjoys the rustic Hokkien-style single-portion duck rice, those in groups can opt for the duck platter, which also includes a sizeable portion of duck meat and sides like tofu, peanuts, and beansprouts.
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Located in an unassuming coffee shop, Hup Seng Duck Rice draws in a hefty lunch crowd and diners are not deterred by it. Serving the Teochew variant, Hup Seng braised the entire duck for about 30-40 minutes to obtain a tender bite. Pair this with a bowl of preserved mustard greens duck soup (giam chye ark tng), which refreshes the palate.
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Helmed by a husband-wife duo, Cheok Kee Braised Duck Rice has been serving their delectable rendition for close to 40 years. Besides pinning down the subtle candied gravy and succulent duck meat, Cheok Kee’s unique chilli sauce also appeals. The combination of Sambal and Hainanese chicken rice-style chilli sauce give this condiment a yummy zing.
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This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore
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