Fancy Peking duck at a hawker stall?
What do entrepreneurs do after opening three successful Cantonese restaurants in Singapore and have the appetite for more action?
They open up a hawker stall featuring the best of their kitchens. That is what the Majestic Restaurant Group has done.
There is no dining class segregation nowadays. Diners that feed at food centres, especially in town, are also the customers who can afford a good meal at decent restaurants.
"We observed the nightly crowd at Gluttons Bay and thought, 'Why not?', so we patiently waited for an available stall," says chef Yong Bing Ngen.
And earlier this week, together with his partners chef Yang Lai Fatt and Arthur Ter, they opened Singapore's first Peking duck hawker stall (possibly the world's first).
Despite a low-key pre-opening announcement, it went viral and on the first night of operations, the Majestic Peking Duck stall moved 50 ducks.
It offers five clever variations: Peking Duck Platter, Duck Salad with Truffle Oil Sauce, Salted Vegetable Duck Soup, Fried Duck Rice with Crispy Cereal, Honey Glazed Duck Wings, so no part of the duck is wasted, plus a just-for-fun Fried Soft Shell Crab with Thai Mango Salad.
It is hard to go wrong when Canto-roast experts like them hawk their fare at a hawker stall.
Each platter of the Peking Duck ($24) is wrapped upon order. It comes fresh and roasty, with a crunch from the cucumber and scallion plus the piquant lift from their own concocted duck hoisin sauce.
The one that got me was the Duck Salad with Truffle Oil Sauce ($12). It sounds and looks not much in a hawker centre with bold hawker dishes all over, but it is a breath of fresh air. The salad has a nice, light and crunchy mix of greens including turnip, with mushroom and crispy skin-on duck slices.
Duck Salad with Truffle Oil Sauce
And the Salted Vegetable Duck Soup ($10) is one of the best I can find in town. These chefs make full use of the remaining bits of bones and meat to create the broth that is sharpened with sourness and salted mustard leaves. It comes refreshingly balanced, not too sour nor salty and so lightly gamey.
For the kids, they have created Fried Duck Rice with Crispy Cereal (a mount of it) at $8.
Fried Duck Rice with Crispy Cereal
Imagine cereal prawn fried rice, except that it is with duck. Every bite of the yolk-coated grain of fried rice comes with crunchy bits of cereal, and it is so strangely comforting.
The other crowd pleaser - and it has nothing to do with duck - is the Fried Soft Shell Crab with Thai Mango Salad ($16).
One key factor I always check on is the batter, and they do it so light and expertly well. I asked Arthur what was different operating at a hawker stall.
"The chefs are not used to so little moving space in a hawker kitchen,'' he says.
Welcome to the world of hawker business, folks.
Majestic Peking Duck
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
8, Raffles Avenue, The Esplanade
5pm to 2am, Monday to Thursday; 5pm to 3am, Friday to Saturday; 4pm to 1am, Sunday
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.