When you see a line, get in it. That’s what Singaporeans say about their hawker stall selections. At Stall No 71, located inside the famous Maxwell Hawker Center, there is always a line. When we arrived at Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia, also known as Hock Soon Roasted Duck Rice And Noodles, around 5 p.m., there was a line snaking around the plastic chairs. It was so busy the chef had to shut his stall and stop operation for ten minutes.
We asked Rene Ng, our Urban Adventure Chinatown Food tour guide what was going on. He said they just got a take-out order for 50 people so we’d have to wait to get our hands on some of Singapore’s best Cantonese-style duck and suckling pork.
This Hong Kong Cantonese speciality is popular in hawker stalls throughout the city, but Chan Tuck Kwai’s is famous. So famous that he’s gained a dedicated customer base, including one man who drives 20-kilometres every day to eat his food.
What makes suckling pork and duck so good? Chan Tuck Kwai focuses on quality rather than quantity. He sells about 30 ducks per day, and each one is roasted to perfection.
Formerly an engineer, Chan Tuck Kwai quit his job to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant. His passion is evident in the energy inside his tiny stall and the taste of his dishes. It’s become so popular through word of mouth that he had to hire an assistant to help meet demand. His assistant is known as Mr. Black, and he is known as Mr. White. They also wear the corresponding colour so no one gets them confused. But Chan Tuck Kwai is the only person who knows his secret recipe for the sauce that goes on the meat.
We watched as the red plastic bags filled with Styrofoam take out containers piled high onto one of the tables. Once the lights turned on and the stall opened again, we felt a shuffle of excitement in the line. It was no time before we had plates of pork and duck in front of us.
Naturally, we wanted to try everything, so we got a plate of three. It came with juicy pork belly, called siu yok with crackling skin, soft barbecue suckling pork, known as char siu with a special blend of sweet soy sauce and prune sauce. And finally, the roasted duck, marinated with five spice and hung dry for two hours, so the skin becomes nice and crispy.
It was hard to choose a favourite among the three, but the flavor of the barbecue suckling pork was addictive while the soft meat and crackle of the duck was beyond satisfying. They’re served with a side of vinegar sauce for dipping. You can also order any of them with rice or noodles covered in the special sauce. If you’re really hungry you can buy a whole duck for between 45 and 55 SGD. It’s so tasty we wouldn’t blame you.
How to find it: As with any hawker centre in Singapore, follow the line. If you see a bright green sign with red Cantonese characters on it inside Maxwell Hawker Center, you know you’re in the right place.
What to order: The platter of three costs $15 and is a great way to try all Chan Tuck Kwai’s specialties.
When to go: The stall is open every day except Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Whatever you do don’t go during peak lunchtime, you’ll be waiting a while.