Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck - More Than Just Duck

The Chew family has been making and selling their signature Teochew braised duck for more than 3 decades.

Today, the founders' son, Melvin has started to take over from his parents, and under their watchful eyes, Melvin is determined to preserve the food business that they have worked hard over the years to build up.

Jin Ji is located in the famous food market in Chinatown Complex, and is just beside other well known stalls there, namely Mitzi and Yuet Loy.

Besides the braised duck, the Chews have also made full use of the braising liquid to also churn out kway chup and braised pig parts. This has turned out to be a very good idea as there is a breath of choices for customers who are looking for more than just duck.

Kway Chup

Their kway chup itself was very well done. The thick pieces of rice noodles were fully immersed with the braising liquid, which was full of herbal flavors and had a lot of depth. There is a subtlety to the sauce which I enjoyed, that was neither too bland nor too overpowering but a fine balance of underlying savory and herbal tones.

Braised Duck and Pig Parts

As for the main dish, you can order a combination of the braised duck and other pig parts including pork belly and intestines. Stewed eggs and tau pok are also included which is quite standard when you order kway chup.

The duck itself was tender and had bags of flavor from the braising process. The lor, or braising liquid was not thick and starchy like other places where they tend to make shortcuts. It had a light but rich kaleidoscope of flavors. I was informed they used a recipe of 10 different herbs to make the braising liquid and it was evident in the final product.

Yam Rice

The disappointing element was the yam rice, which was somewhat soggy and lacked that distinctive yam flavor that I was expecting. Melvin had informed me that they are in the midst of changing their rice supplier and promised that once they have resolve this issue, their yam rice should be vastly improved.

Pig Tongues and Tails

One dish that the Chews serve here is this rather rare pig tails and tongues plate. Using the same delicious lor, the tongues and tails are braised and immersed with the same robust flavors.

The textures though, were a bit tough for both parts and a tad dry for my liking. Despite this, some of the older generation might find this a very welcomed dish due to its rarity.

 A Kway Chup Feast

Despite some flaws, the overall quality of the kway chup and braised duck is really worth a trip here. While I still prefer Lao San for my kway chup fix, I admire the effort that the Chews put in to provide a very hearty meal here when it comes to braised foods.

As a next generation hawker, it is heartening also to see Melvin coming back to helm his parents' stall and continue a legacy that has many years of hard work and labor put into it.

It may say duck on their signage, but Jin Ji has more than just duck up their sleeves.

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck
Chinatown Complex
Smith Street Food Centre
335 Smith Street

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