"One plate of roast duck rice please."
"Oh yeah yeah braised duck!"
That about makes up half the conversations typically carried out at Hup Seng. While most stores sell their duck roasted, Hup Seng specialises in the Teochew-style braised duck. The store owner thus explained how a slip of the tongue results in many people asking for "roast duck" instead. Fret not, as most of these patrons are regulars who are in fact huge fans of their braised duck.
Having Teochew roots myself, I got really excited after hearing about Hup Seng from a friend. The only braised duck I've ever tried is the one my grandma painstackingly makes every Lunar New Year. The time consuming process of cleaning the duck, marinating, then braising it, meant we could only enjoy it once a year. So hearing that there was a store doing it on a daily basis was superb news.
A family-ran business, everything at Hup Seng is freshly prepared daily from scratch. The hawkers start their day at 2am, making sure everything is up and ready for the early breakfast service. On busy days - which is probably every day seeing how they usually sell out around 1pm - they barely have any time for lunch in between. It's really hard work, and I am glad the owners are willing to go through that to offer us such great food.
A whole braised duck and a large bowl of salted vegetables duck soup set us back at S$24; very reasonable considering this could feed 4 pax when eaten with rice.
Tender, succulent, and surprisingly lean, their braised duck was nothing short of amazing. Every slice of meat was lightly coated with the rich braising liquid, keeping it juicy and moist. Don't skimp out on the accompanying homemade chili sauce. Mixed with some vinegar, the tangy sauce cut through the salty sauce really well and was a great compliment to the duck.
Salted vegetables soup is fairly hard to nail: cooks have to ensure that they achieve the right balance to prevent the soup from being overly salty. Fortunately Hup Seng got this by the tail. Sour, peppery, and steaming hot, their soup was just the right amount of salty. Eaten with the tender boiled duck, it is probably the best salted vegetable duck soup.
With other items like braised belly of pork and duck porridge, Hup Seng makes for a sumptious hawker breakfast. They've undoubtedly stolen my heart from the ubiquitous roast duck. Unfortunately, word from the owner is that in lieu of the increasingly pricey rent, he may choose to retire in the next year or so. As tiring and painful it may be, I hope - for very selfish reasons - that Hup Seng can find an alternative solution, and allow this amazingly successful family business continue running.
Hup Seng Duck Rice 合成鸭饭
Blk 22 Sin Ming Road #01-258
Mondays to Fridays: 9am-2.30pm
Closed on Thursdays
Note that opening hours aren't fixed: they can open as early as 8am, and close once they sell out.