Cheok Kee Duck Rice – Famous Braised Duck at Geylang Bahru!
We visited Cheok Kee Boneless Braised Duck on a rainy Monday morning. The famous stall has received much media coverage in the last few years. Owner and chef, Mr Ong, told us that Cheok Kee has been opened for thirty years. Its first location was at Old Airport Road, the second at Jalan Eunos, and it’s currently located at Geylang Bahru Hawker Centre. Mr Ong shared that at the age of 19, he quit his old job at a nightclub in search of a more stable, long-term career. Mr Ong eventually learnt the art of braising duck from his ex-boss, a hawker who sold braised duck at an open-air food stall along the streets of Geylang Lorong 27 in 1974.
But Mr Ong’s hawker journey did not just begin after learning the ropes from his master. It took years of experimentation before he finally achieves the right balance of spices in Cheok Kee’s delicious braised gravy. He shared that in addition to a solid gravy, the next most important thing would be having good control over the stove fire when braising the ducks.
We ordered half a duck ($17) and it came with an assortment of nicely plated meat garnished with coriander. Cheok Kee’s gravy was on the sweeter side and complemented the tender slices of fatty duck perfectly. Mr Ong’s gravy draws heavily on the Guangdong-style of cooking as cornstarch is used to thicken the gravy. Cheok Kee uses Chai Ya (Lit Vegetable Duck) that weighs around 3 kg which has more succulent meat compared to the Ban Chai Ya, which is tougher.
Unfortunately, the rice was a tad disappointing. Cooked with braised broth instead of yam, the rice grains were harder and difficult to chew, giving the impression that it was not cooked well.
On the other hand, Cheok Kee’s duck porridge ($3) was one of the best I have ever had. The gravy matched the gooey porridge superbly and made it extremely flavourful. Unlike most places that offer porridge that is too watery, Cheok Kee’s piping hot version has just the right consistency. This is the kind of breakfast I want to eat every day!
Moving on to the next key aspect of a delicious plate of duck rice — chilli sauce. Mr Ong told us that he experimented for two years before he finally created the right recipe. The homemade chilli sauce is made from a unique blend of chilli vinegar and sambal belacan. The chilli sauce was a little too spicy for me but it certainly went well with the duck rice. It was not particularly outstanding in any way, but it was satisfying, no less.
Cheok Kee’s business has always been good, attracting large crowds during lunchtime and even sizable queues during non-peak hours. When asked about future plans for expansion, Mr Ong replied that there is none at the moment, as it is difficult to hire employees to manage the stall.
Cheok Kee Boneless Braised Duck
Address: 69 Geylang Bahru #01-2841 Geylang Bahru Market & Food Centre Singapore 330069
Opening Hours: 11am to 9pm daily. Closed on Thursdays.
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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