Liang Zhao Ji – You Have Never Tasted Duck Porridge This Good
Liang Zhao Ji Braised Duck is a renowned hawker stall that has been around since our parents’ time. Last year, they made it to the highly acclaimed Michelin Bib Gourmand list. As a fan who loves to go after award-winning hawker stalls, I went to Whampoa Drive Food Centre to get a taste of this famous braised duck rice.
The first thing that struck me was how plain and nondescript Liang Zhao Ji’s shopfront looked. Its brightly-lit sign board retained that traditional font and old school colour scheme from a bygone era, and evoked nostalgia. The difference between Liang Zhao Ji and its neighbour, fellow Michelin Bib Gourmand awardee, Balestier Road Hoover Rojak, cannot be any bigger. The simple storefront of this braised duck stall is in stark contrast with its neighbour’s, which is decorated with articles and newspaper clippings.
There was already a short queue at 1130am when we popped by. The queue moved painfully slowly as the customers in front of me ordered tens of packets of duck rice. The menu is straightforward – there’s only Duck Rice ($3/$4/$5) and Duck Porridge ($3). You can also order side dishes comprising various duck parts. Interestingly, I noticed that unlike most places, Liang Zhao Ji does not do kway chap. Sticking to the familiar, we ordered the duck rice for two ($10) and a bowl of duck porridge ($3).
The mound of glistening duck meat drizzled with a dark coloured braised gravy looked so alluring. However, on my first bite, I felt that it looked better than it tasted. The braised gravy was mostly savoury with just a hint of herbal sweetness. I prefer my duck meat to be boneless but Liang Zhao Ji does the opposite — you will find a sizeable bone-to-meat ratio here. Taking into account all the bony bits, you will realised that the duck rice, which cost $10, is actually quite pricey. The duck meat was generally tough and dry. If I were to judge Liang Zhao Ji solely based on the duck meat, the stall would receive a pretty mediocre score.
For braised duck rice, I like my rice to be soft and flavourful. The yam rice at Liang Zhao Ji was extremely grainy and hard. They certainly have gotten some flavour into the duck rice but, sadly, the texture of it was entirely not to my liking. In fact, I found it difficult to swallow the rice!
Here is where Liang Zhao Ji’s game changer comes in — its amazing duck porridge. While queuing up, the uncle kindly informed me that the duck meat is hidden beneath the porridge. I mixed up the braised gravy with the pristine white porridge. On my first mouthful, I instantly saw where Liang Zhao Ji’s strength lies. Unlike many places that serve watery porridge, Liang Zhao Ji’s version is akin to Cantonese-style porridge. It was thick, gooey and velvety smooth. It would be absolutely comforting to have a bowl of this porridge on a rainy day! I thought that they could have been more generous with the portion of duck meat though!
This is my first time trying Cantonese-style duck porridge and I am completely won over! The perfect marriage between the porridge and braised gravy really enhanced the stellar texture and consistency of an otherwise plain bowl of pearly white Cantonese-style porridge. I found myself stirring and scooping the porridge continuously in hopes of finding some non-existent braised peanuts, which would be the cherry on top of this outstanding dish. Until that day, my impression of braised duck has always been that of a heavy, calorie laden meal. Liang Zhao Ji showed me how duck porridge can be comfort food that you can eat everyday.
Special mention has to be given to the chilli. Instead of the usual sambal belacan-like chilli, their chilli is lighter in taste and texture, but still very addictive. I suspect that vinegar was used in its making, because it had a zesty tanginess and sweetness that cut through any oiliness of the duck meat, making it lighter on the palate. Sooner or later, you will find yourself emptying the whole platter of chilli into the duck rice to enhance the taste and make it more palatable.
I expected a lot more from Liang Zhao Ji. But what the former two lacked, the duck porridge more than made up for. So, go for the duck porridge!
Liang Zhao Ji
Address: 90 Whampoa Dr, Whampoa Drive Hawker Centre, Stall #01-07, Singapore 320090
Mobile: 9450 0893
Opening Hours: 1030am to 330pm daily. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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