Dropped by Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap 金记潮州卤鸭 at Chinatown Complex, one of Singapore's oldest hawker centres.
Jin Ji is a stall on the second floor at the "red zone". It is one of the stalls on the outer ring, facing the outside, so it is quite bright and airy compared to the stalls inside the sprawling maze-like complex.
Melvin, whose late father started Jin Ji in 1983, runs the stall with his mum and sister. Besides Teochew style braised duck, Jin Ji is also popular for their kway chap (braised pork offal). I had stomach space to taste only Jin Ji's braised duck today ;-p
Jin Ji uses fresh ducks from Malaysia of at least 3 kilo weight, so they are meaty and fat (which is good as the meat and fat are where the bird's natural flavours are).
At the heart of any braised meat 卤味 stall is the braising sauce 卤酱. Melvin still uses the same braising sauce which his dad used since 1983 when Jin Ji was founded. In this vintage braising sauce is the essence of 33 years of soy sauce, herbs and juices of countless ducks. It has deep and rich layers of savoury, herbal and underlying sweetness which is transferred to Jin Ji's ducks. (The more aged and lovingly preserved the braising sauce, the more complex are it's flavours. Young, unseasoned braising sauce tastes relatively flat 死咸.)
I ordered just slices of braised duck breast which came slathered with a splash of gooey brown sauce.
Jin Ji is famous for their braised duck bento with tamago (lava) egg which is Melvin's innovation. I opted for just old school duck breast today :-p
The tender slices of juicy duck breast tasted savoury herbal from the gooey brown sauce with underlying subtle duck gaminess. The brown sauce is made by thickening the braising sauce. Melvin said that the brown sauce was saltier during his father's time and has been toned down a little to suit contemporary palates and preferences. Even then, I felt the brown sauce masked the duck's natural flavours considerably.
As I like to taste the duck's natural flavours, I asked for the brown sauce to be served separately as a dip. I like it that Jin Ji does their tender duck slightly pink with the natural juices and flavours intact. I enjoyed Jin Ji's braised duck a lot more this way. In fact, I love it :-D
Quirky old man ^*@%*^&*£}$<
The accompanying soup has the distinct taste of Chinese herbs - a bit too much for my taste buds.
Melvin makes a mean sambal. His sambal chili has a subtle smokey taste underlying the rich crustacean savouriness with a gentle fleeting hot sting that's more like a kiss than a bite.
->> Jin Ji serves a good old school Teochew style braised duck in Singapore. I shall also be back for their popular kway chap and that famous bento :-D
Chinatown Complex food centre is at Smith Street, right at the heart of Singapore's Chinatown.
Restaurant name: Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap 金记潮州卤鸭
Address: Blk 335, Smith Street, #02-156 (Chinatown Complex), Singapore 005335 (3 minutes walk from Chinatown MRT station)
GPS: 1.282789, 103.843116 / 1°16'58.0"N 103°50'35.2"E
Tel: 9018 9052
Hours: 10:00am to 7:00pm (Closed on Fri)
Date: 28 Mar 2016
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